Love it or hate it, networking has become a cornerstone of the modern recruiting industry. Although it’s often awkward, those forced conversations and too-firm handshakes connect you with new talent and showcase your reliability to secure the best candidates for your organization.
In order to keep your company competitive, you need to be able to communicate effectively with job seekers, interest them in your work, and weed out those who aren’t up to par. Therefore, it’s crucial to keep your skills honed and do your research before each event. Below are a few ways to improve your ability to recruit top-tier candidates at any networking event you attend:
Do Your Homework
Make sure you’re putting in the work to research each event you attend. You want to ensure you fully understand the requirements of each position you’re trying to fill so you can work to identify key characteristics in the people you meet. Doing a little prep work ahead of time is key to helping you prioritize the events that will be most beneficial to your organization’s hiring goals.
Most event invitations will have a summary of the night and a list of other companies attending the event; use this to inform your research. Look into which industries will be represented, the event’s location, and the types of positions your organization is looking to fill.
Researching will also give you a lot more insight into how you should dress and behave. For example, a gathering at a conference center will likely require a different dress code and communication style than one at a local bar. Be sure you professionally match the surroundings and mood, whether that means not wearing a tie or having a drink in hand, in order to remain approachable and personable to others.
Look Polished But Approachable
Everyone knows it’s critical to dress professionally in networking settings. You want to ensure you’re representing your client or organization and your own personal brand well. It’s also important, however, to maintain a little personability with your appearance. Consider wearing a college pin on your lapel to strike conversation over your alma mater, or brightly-colored socks. These small bits of flash will give you some more personality and help attract candidates without compromising your professionalism.
Your appearance also plays a large role in your overall confidence. If this is something you struggle with, try out some power poses or self-affirmations before walking into the event. If you have a few weeks to spare beforehand, you can also try some medications for hair loss, acne, or tooth discoloration to improve any insecurities that might hold you back from feeling confident at an event.
Although it seems counterproductive, consider pushing dialogue about specific job positions to the back of the conversation. Instead, engage the other person by asking them questions about their interests and career trajectory. Then, actively listen by maintaining eye contact, nodding and asking followup questions. This will set you apart from other recruiters and create a more memorable human connection with potential candidates. It should also give you a better understanding of them as individuals and how they could fit into your organization.
After meeting dozens of eager professionals, it can be difficult to differentiate one face or interaction from another. Give yourself time right after the event to debrief. Once you’re alone in your car or the subway, write out the most important candidates with whom you want to follow up. Along with each quality job seeker’s name, include distinguishing characteristics, any conversation topics you covered and goals or career advice you discussed. These small bits of personalization will help you maintain your connection with the potential candidate, and set your followup email apart from the others they may receive. It will also help you stay organized if you pursue this candidate in the hiring process.
Just be sure to do this immediately following the event. This will keep the information fresh in your mind and also avoid off-putting note-taking throughout the night. Keep your hands free and eyes up to invite people to speak with you and make you seem much more open and professional.
Effective networking depends on your personability, passion, and persuasion. Give yourself the toolset you need to find success by preparing and prioritizing personal connections. Ultimately, these tips should help you find the best candidates for your organization and increase your recruiting success rates at events.