Good To Meet
Do you struggle to fill niche positions? Are the candidates you want being targeted by every recruiter out there? If you’ve tried every recruiting tactic in the book and still can’t get their attention, a “meetup” may be your new secret strategy. Why? It gives you the opportunity to gather a group of highly-focused, highly-qualified candidates without blatantly recruiting them. It works because you provide a thought leadership experience they won’t forget.
I have had success running meetups for Fortune 500 companies and find that they are one of the most cost effective ways to both market your employment brand and provide a valuable experience to potential candidates. But, before you jump in, be warned: there are rules to play by.
What is a meetup?
If you’re not familiar with a meetup, they are happening in your locale via meetup.com. For a very nominal monthly fee, the site allows you to host a group that is focused on a common interest. Then your client/company can sponsor events to bring those people together. While there are all kinds of meetups, the type you want to focus on are networking events with industry thought leaders (hint: preferably your thought leader is a senior executive from your company/client). These thought leaders provide an inside track on the latest industry developments – and if you happen to be in a fast-evolving industry like IT, this is highly coveted knowledge.
So how do you do it? Here’s the scoop on what I’ve learned about running a successful meetup to attract those hard-to-snare candidates:
- Know the meetup.com rules. You can host a group on meetup.com, but the group needs to be independent of your client/company. It cannot be sponsored by a corporation. It needs to be a grassroots group that stands on its own, like a special-interest group. This is a good thing, too, because by being independent of a corporate brand, you can use it for a) other clients or b) other locations where your company wants to recruit. (A corporation can sponsor an event, though, for the group and be advertised as a sponsor).
- Pick a sexy topic that will attract the candidates you want. Anything that is next level, next generation, or focuses on what’s coming next in the industry – the inside information that lets them in on the latest happenings and exciting innovations– this is what brings in the top talent crowd.
- Choose an irresistible speaker. The last thing you want is to bore your audience. If you don’t have senior executives/high professionals within your company that can engage an audience, then look outside for a respected thought leader. Play up their expertise and showcase them.
- Select a weekday evening. We’ve found that Wednesdays and Thursdays are the best evenings for these events. We’ve had up to 400 attend, too, so be sure to plan your venue and refreshments accordingly. Universities are often great places to hold the event.
- Host a social hour after the presentation. This is the key networking time when people meet executives from the client/company. Be sure to have several executives present-- don’t rely just on the speaker! Candidates are introduced to your employment brand and potential opportunities naturally emerge as they interact with executives who are passionate about what they do.
- Subtly recruit. Set up a recruitment table that features marketing collateral and information on potential positions. Have your recruiters on hand to answer questions and if possible, have members of the team the candidate would work with available to talk about what life at the company is like.
- Creatively market the event. Aside from being marketed on meetup.com, you can also create a webpage for the event and have client/company executives add a “join us for…” line to their email signatures. Be sure to promote it on social media. Allow at least two months lead-time to market the event for best results.
- Invite bloggers and influencers. Don’t forget to leverage this event from every angle. Invite respected bloggers and media influencers. You may also want to record the presentation to use for future marketing and possibly offer a webcast so more people can attend the event virtually.
With careful planning and coordination, your meetup can become a highlight in the industry. You can also repeat the event or create a series of events that focus on the key positions you need. Use your creativity to create a great experience and the candidate community will be talking about it for months to come—and you will have a fresh roster of highly qualified leads from which to recruit top talent.
You can read Bronwen Hundley's article as it was originally posted on Global Recruiter: Good To Meet.