When recruiting for talent, startups often compete with larger organizations although they have far fewer resources. Leveraging your professional network is a recruitment strategy that can boost your recruiting efforts. Networking can be an efficient and cost-effective way to source qualified job candidates and compete for key resources.

Typically, those in your network have similar backgrounds or interests and are more vested in your success and likely to make quality referrals.

Networks source inactive job candidates

Professional networks can also help identify “passive” but qualified candidates who are not actively job searching. As a recruitment strategy, networking enables you to get your message out about your company, culture and opportunities beyond the posting process. It can cultivate interest and increase the candidate pool. Invest the time to keep your connections alive and to expand them.

When telling members of your professional network about your company and staffing needs, be clear about the job title and outline the skills and qualifications required. Take advantage of person-to-person conversations, identifying and leveraging key “connectors” in your network. Meet high-value “connectors” for coffee or lunch.

Not only can the “connectors” in your network refer job candidates to you directly, they may suggest contacts to access additional advice or expertise, adding value to your search process. Organized events through industry or local business associations and academic or alumni events also offer useful forums to help you to leverage and grow your network.

Social media: Reaching out to your networks

Social media is an important and effective recruitment strategy to reach those in your professional and personal network and extend your geographic reach as you recruit for talent. Online communities such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook allow you to engage with others quickly.

LinkedIn as a source of job candidates

An interconnected network of experienced professionals, LinkedIn enables you to post job opportunities to catch active job seekers. Import your existing contact lists from your email to find out which of your contacts are already on LinkedIn. LinkedIn automatically recommends people you might know based on your details and existing contacts.

On LinkedIn, discussion groups are a feature where professionals in a similar field regularly share information. Use the LinkedIn question-and-answer section to pose questions and invite contribution and feedback. It’s a great way to establish relationships and identify potential influencers and partners to help you fill your current and future positions.

Take a few minutes each week to participate and leave comments in these virtual communities. This will help cultivate your network. When the time comes to post a job opening, consider privately messaging key individuals with whom you have established relationships.

Employee networks as a recruitment strategy

Remember to tap into the network of your current employees. Good talent knows good talent. Employee referral programs with a cash or goods incentive are especially effective in the case of highly specialized positions that might be difficult to fill through conventional channels. People tend to associate with others in their profession and this gives them access to colleagues with specialized or rare skills.