As sourcers and recruiters, we often spend a lot of time trying to find out where the people are – that is, where the qualified candidates like to hang out. There are plenty of online solutions to this – LinkedIn, Github, StackOverflow, and Twitter are often excellent sources of fantastic hires. But as Maisha Cannon reminded us at SourceCon Austin, there’s something to be said for “in person” sourcing, too: meeting people in real life and talking to them about your company or your open roles.
One of the best ways to do this is to host, sponsor, or organize a meetup group. Meetup groups bring people who have something in common together in support of a common goal. I help organize Chicago’s Queer Tech Club (we’re 1900+ members and rising, as of this writing!) – here are my suggestions.
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- Find your group. Before you start building something new, see if there’s already an existing community you can tap into or support. Meetup has its search functionality, but there’s no harm in running a quick google search. If your city has any websites that aggregate networking events (Chicago has BuiltInChicago.org, for example), check those out too.
- Put in the face time. Before you jump into organizing or sponsoring, check out a meetup! Most of them are free to attend. Check to see if they post a policy about recruiters on their site, and be respectful in case they do limit attendees.
- Ask how you can help. Most organizers are easy to find and happy to talk about how you can help. You can talk to organizers at an event, but meetup also has a built-in messaging app – use it! Folks often also post their email addresses – don’t be afraid to reach out. Offering help is a pretty easy sell; people will be naturally inclined to take your call.
- Organize. Successful events require three things: a space, refreshments, and an audience. The space and the refreshments are typically pretty easy – show off your awesome workspace or cafeteria! If you don’t have a large meeting room, consider footing the bill for a hosted happy hour and appetizers at a bar or event space. Bring those two things together, and the audience should come naturally, but just in case they don’t …
- Advertise – use social media and community partners! Get the word out about your meetup! Obviously, introducing yourself to candidates one-on-one is a good way to let people know, but it’s important to cast a broad net. If your meetup is centered on particular communities (like Queer Tech Club), make sure that people in the community know about it, and don’t always rely on word of mouth.
After your meetup or event, make sure you follow up. Set your standards for success beforehand, and then judge your meetup against that: how many attendees did you have? Did they seem engaged? Is there a way to poll for quick feedback, or can you read the room? If people have suggestions for what can be better, implement them. Ask yourself how you can stay engaged in the community, and do what you can to keep supporting people.