Just as there’s an immense amount of pressure on candidates in the job search process, there’s an equal amount of pressure on recruiters themselves to hire the right people. Being able to hire the appropriate employees with the proper skills and experience can be instrumental in the success of your organization.
Networking events are the perfect avenue for getting to know contenders in the relevant field. Mingling and engaging in effective communication with like-minded professionals can not only help you discover the right people for your company but also broaden your horizons to qualities and knowledge you didn’t think to search for in the first place. In order to find candidates at networking events in your field, keep some of the following tips in mind and you’ll be able to connect with, and recruit suitable candidates.
Do your research.
If you’re set to attend a networking event in your field, it’s crucial that you do some research into the event itself and its anticipated guests. Take a look online and view the event on Facebook, Twitter, or the site that lists the event schedule. Try to find other guests planning to attend, and connect with them before the event. Get all the small talk out of the way by getting to know the basics about candidates prior to the event, and you can ask more open-ended, job-related questions in person. When you get to know contenders ahead of time, you’ll be able to develop a quicker in-person connection, which will make for a more productive conversation and a lasting, positive impression.
Leave a good first impression.
It’s not just important, but crucial to leave a good first impression on candidates. Studies show that 55% of the first impression we make on a person comes from our appearance, so be sure you’re confident in the way you look. For example, common issues for professional-aged adults like male pattern baldness and adult female acne often stand out to candidates and make sufferers feel self-conscious which can distract them from having meaningful conversations. Try to recognize any physical insecurities you may have, and address them well before the event so they won’t interfere with your impression. To alleviate any self-doubt, combine a professional grooming style with a comfortable, but business-friendly outfit and confident body language in order to appear self-assured and leave a positive and professional first impression.
Ask the right questions.
When you come into contact with a prospect who piques your interest at the event, you’ll need to make what little time you have as productive as possible. Therefore, you have little time to waste on small talk and yes-or-no questions. To get the most out of your conversation, ask questions that are open-ended and allow the candidate to illustrate both their current position and past experience. Most importantly, ask them questions that allow them to give you an idea of their professional goals. Questions like: “Where do you see yourself five years from now?” and “What’s next for you in your career?” can allow you to determine if the candidate is appropriate for, or will be happy in, the position you’re aiming to fill.
While some of our habits seem to come second nature to us and feel insignificant, many of them can come across as insensitive or rude. For example, if you’re looking at your phone throughout a conversation with a candidate, the candidate will likely think you do not value their time. Or, if you’re looking around the room as they are answering your questions, they will probably be turned away by your behavior. Being attentive, both physically and mentally, is so important to developing a good relationship with applicants. That said, small signs of active listening like making steady eye contact, leaning toward the respondent, and offering nods of approval can demonstrate attentiveness and concentration.
Take notes after each conversation.
Networking events can hold hundreds of people, so it’s likely that you’re not going to remember each and every interaction you have with candidates. If you run into them again after the event, you’ll want to remember details from your conversation to show them that you genuinely valued meeting them. To make recalling this information easier, bring a notepad and write down details from each interaction immediately after they occur so you don’t forget. If you have trouble putting names to faces, jot down physical qualities, along with the topics you covered, and whether or not they could be a potential asset to your company. This will make it easier for you to both organize your recruitment strategy and recognize who to follow up with promptly after the event.
Though each person you come in contact with may not be a perfect fit, you should thank candidates for their time. Wrap up each conversation by offering up a business card or exchanging contact information. Don’t let the ideal candidate slip away by running out of business cards, or getting interrupted before you get the chance to close out the conversation. After they leave, you should follow up with each candidate via email or phone and thank them for speaking with you and allowing you to get to know them. Be sure to do so shortly after the event, in order to stay fresh in a candidate’s mind and stand out from other follow-ups.
As a recruiter, never go into a networking event without some preparation. Do your research, engage in meaningful conversation, and develop lasting relationships with potential assets to your organization.