We often help our clients figure out who to hire, when to make that hire, and how to hire. If you're not ready to hire right now or think you won't ever need to, start finding your people now. Building your network and building those relationships is a crucial first step.
Here are six approaches we share with clients.
Adopt Give Before You Get
Adopt the Give Before You Get approach. Add value to the people and the community you connect with and they will be more likely to help you. Without this approach, the relationships you build will be transactional.
Examples of “give":
- Speak at a meetup about a challenge your team encountered and share your experiences with others who will benefit from them
- Volunteer at an event
- Sponsor an event
- Sponsor a person (no money involved!)
- Buy someone’s product and share it with the world
- Buy coffee for someone else and let them "pick your brain” instead
- Ask someone how you can help them
When the “get” finally comes around, it will be worth so much more to you.
Use Your Network
Referrals from someone you trust are reliable. Ask for an introduction to a specific person rather than asking for a list of people in order to make it easier on the person doing the referring.
If you’re not sure who you’re looking for or you’re simply looking to expand your network, consider sharing a job post, a short paragraph of what you’re looking for, or providing an already prepared email that can be forwarded. This will make it easy for people to share it with their network.
Look Outside Your Network
Maybe you’re feeling like you can’t find who you’re looking for within your own network. Our own networks tend to be very homogenous, filled with people just like us. We share the same experiences, backgrounds, age, race, religion, and gender with many in our own networks. This causes us to end up with teams that are very homogenous and we build products for a very homogenous audience. Consider Snapchat’s face filters that are either blatantly racist or reinforce whiteness. Products like these are created by teams lacking diversity.
We’re much more likely to rely on that referral from someone we already trust because it’s easy. Instead of going down the easy route, look outside your network. Not only will you expand your own network, but you will build more diverse, successful, happy, and profitable teams and successful products that can be used by many.
- Join other communities, be social, engage.
- Go to meetups and conferences.
- Join a coworking space and reap the benefits of a built in community.
- Find events to pitch your product or startup.
- Invite one of your engineers to give a presentation on the latest tech challenge her team took on.
- Share your experiences contributing to the open source community.
People are there to learn and to connect with others who share that same passion. Even if those you meet at these places can’t help now or aren’t interested in working at your company now, that’s ok. They may be interested in helping in the future. Ask if you can reach out to them again in six months. Ask if they know of anyone who might be interested.
Some events will ask attendees who’s hiring and who’s looking for work. That’s an excellent opportunity to speak up. Just know that you’ll want to stick around for the entire event to chat with people after.
Sponsor An Event
If you have a specific tech stack in mind, there will be monthly meetups for each and every one. If you're looking to diversify your workforce, consider sponsoring a meetup or conference that supports marginalized groups. These meetups need money to fuel their community. Depending on the event, you can expect $200-500 for an evening meetup. Conference sponsorships start around the $1000 mark. Either way, you’ll get your time in the spotlight to market your open position, your company, or the tech you want more developers to use. More importantly, you’ll get an opportunity to meet other people who are passionate about the tech you use or build.
Talk Yourself Up
Well, talk up your product, startup, project, idea, company, open position, or team. Socialize it on social media, within your networks, at events, and within the tech community. Ask your employees to do the same. If you have something good, they probably already do this.