Last week I went through a rash of bashing related to Recruiters' over-use of the Social Networks like LinkedIn, Ning, Facebook, etc... This week I'm going in a different direction. I am going to recommend and discuss some effective alternatives to big board recruiting that you may or may not have been utilizing yet, but that I find to be very helpful.
The topic for today is...FORUMS!!! (social forums)
Let me preface this by saying I am absolutely not (in NO way) encouraging you to go out and join 50 freaking forums and start plastering open job reqs all over these sites. DO NOT DO THAT!! That is absolutely a bad idea, and will only get you banned (possibly forever) from those forums.
Now...having said that...let's get to the meat of this subject. If you are anything like me you are probably very active online in various social forums that are in NO way related to recruiting or in the field you recruit for. If you're not...you should be. I love these forums and spend several hours a week (some time during the work day, but most times after hours) discussing all the related topics of interest. There are literally THOUSANDS of discussion forums on the internet with all levels of activity. I'm part of a fishing forum with over 30,000 members, and 90% of them are local to me. That's another key (for me) because a large majority of my positions are local. You can find local online discussion groups to join and become an active member of the site. Just go to Google and find the forum that has a common interest to your life. For example...if you are into fishing just to to Google and type in: "Fishing Forum" and see how many forums come back in the list. Put in your state to be more specific and find more local results.
Now HERE is the key...and this is of the utmost importance if you ask me. DO NOT join a social online forum just to start posting jobs or looking for candidates. That (IMO) is setting you up for failure and you will be asking yourself..."what the heck is this 'Kent Sims' guy talking about...this forum stuff is worthless." That will be because you jumped the gun. You have to build the relationship...before you sell.
You must become part of that forum. Contribute to the discussions, ask questions, talk about your personal experiences on the topic. I would recommend doing this for a minimum of 1 month (preferably 2 months) before ever mentioning you are a recruiter or trying to recruit anyone for a job. Try to post ONE thing EVERY day for 2 months. Be it a reply, a new topic, a picture...whatever...post ONE thing related to this hobby/interest every day. This establishes that you are not there to SPAM...but that you are there to add value to the community and really do share this hobby/interest with the other forum members. Heck...you might even make some online friends out of the experience.
This is obviuosly not something that is an "instant results" sort of tool. When used correctly and you form relationships with the forum members before you start talking about your open jobs...you will usually be very well received. This is because you formed the relationship BEFORE trying to be a salesperson. NOW...you aren't spamming anyone...you're an established part of the forum. You have already added value to their forum in the forum of your posts, activity, etc... Some forums you can even get to know the forum owner, and possibly work out a deal with him/her to allow you to have a section dedicated to "Looking for Work" or something like that. Many forum owners are always looking for new ways to expand their forum and help the users get more use out of their network. As you continue to build your presence on the forum...then start networking with forum members. Connect with them on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, etc... This way you don't have a long list of random connections, but you actually KNOW these people you are connecting with. You have a common bond socially already developed, AND you can help them with their professional life.
I have made several placements this year from people I've met in online discussion communities (forums). I would estimate that 10% of my hires this year (so far) have come from utilizing these online forums and the relationships I've formed there. That's more placements than I would have had if I had NOT utilized these tools. It means more $$ for me, and more $$ for my company. Plus...I got to help people I had gotten to know socially before talking about work. Now I've helped a friend and that friend will go back and talk about it in the social forum we are both a member of. Then other people contact you and refer you to their friends/family. THAT is networking.
There are also the technical forums and skill-specific discussion groups. I'll save that subject for another blog because it should be approached COMPLETELY differently than the Social Forums.
Hope everyone has a great week!