Making your first few hires is a big step in growing your small business. And with this milestone comes some equally big decisions about how to go about filling those positions.
It can be a daunting process, one fraught with uncertainty and second guessing. Where do I start? How do I find the right candidates? Can I hire skilled workers without spending a fortune getting them in the door?
Don’t bemoan the fact that you don’t have a hiring department or can’t afford to have recruiters on speed dial. The Internet, online social networks in particular, have leveled the playing field for small businesses.
And all you have to do is follow a “birds of a feather” strategy.
LinkedIn has come a long way since it first arrived as a business-flavored social network. Today, it boasts more than 175 million members in 200 countries. The company uses that massive reach and the insights gathered from its millions of members to power its recruiting services and help find job candidates.
These services come with a cost, which a recruiter may be happy to spend but which a small business owner may not have the budget (hint: LinkedIn Recruiter and its myriad tools to attract talent costs way more than a Premium account). Instead, leverage your existing connections — and your connection’s connections — to reach out and gauge their interest in new ventures.
If you haven’t already done so, it’s time to join some LinkedIn Groups related to your industry or niche and scope out some top influencers. Despite your efforts, LinkedIn’s paywall may stand in the way of you and some perfect candidates. Don’t panic, the toll isn’t too steep.
Log into LinkedIn and near the top, if you aren’t already a premium member, click on the Upgrade link. Scope out the options (Business, Business Pro and Executive) and select the one that gives you the InMail message amounts, company introductions and premium search filters and functionality that meet your requirements.
Chances are that at this early stage, you only need to fill a few positions. Business, the cheapest pay package at $25 per month (when not billed annually), may be enough to help you find and connect you with the right prospects.
Get Ready to Meetup
They’re not just for Redditors, hobbyists and social butterflies. Business incubators, startups and professional organizations are increasingly hosting meetups.
Informal compared to big conferences, meetup events typically draw ambitious, talented individuals with social media savvy. The best part about a meetup is right in the name. Meetups, when well organized and true to their intent, are held to promote face-to-face communication and building connections, not attending endless panels and presentations.
This allows attendees to chat and embrace that old-fashioned notion of getting to know people. When it comes to attracting the first few hires that will help you grow your business, you really want to get to know them.
Where can you find these meetups and find driven, potential future employees? Start at MeetUp.com, of course.
Coworking with Future Coworkers
Remember that money-saving tip about coworking spaces? Not only can a coworking hangout save you big on real estate expenses, it can also help you scope out potential candidates.
Coworking spaces aren’t just for office-less entrepreneurs. Freelancers, consultants and tons of solo fliers use coworking spaces to network and further their own ambitions. Some of them wouldn’t mind a regular paycheck.
The best part about looking for talent in a coworking environment is that you’re getting a preview of their work ethic and resourcefulness, particularly when they’re left to their own devices. If their skills, outlook and experience mesh with your requirements, turn a coworking buddy into a coworker.
Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at Internetnews.com, the news service of the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.
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