I’m sure you’re all keen to get straight into the content of this workshop. So here we go.
The key takeaway messages for me on ‘Tapping into Niche Communities’ were:
- Build a reputation
- Making connections
Andrea made a really interesting point when she talked about building reputations. As a sourcer, your aim is to try and leverage as much information from various networks whether it be from direct applicants, referrals, or general direction pointing – but how many of you consciously think about how you’re being perceived by the community at large ?
Consider the newcomer asking all sorts of intrusive questions about who you are, what you know, who is in your personal network, etc. They normally come armed with what you’re pretty sure is a script or blanket message, a vague position description and information about a supposed blue-chip client they won’t reveal… would you be willing to help them out?
To combat wariness and apprehension from the community, Andrea suggests a more subtle approach by starting off small and working your way up. In any given community, you could start off by lurking in the forums, reading over old threads, then slowly contributing by giving your informed opinion on certain topics or answering questions. By the time you end up asking for favours (and let’s not delude ourselves about what we’re trying to achieve here!), the community will be more than willing to also help you!
The other part that set off alarm bells in my mind was her very lucid point about making connections. Often we’re so bogged down by working on a number of different roles that we tend to go with the approach of which connection will equate to the biggest ‘bang for buck’. That might mean, jumping into a community, reaping the information you want and then riding away into the night, never to be heard of again… until the next time.
This issue sits on the back of a much larger debate of how you position yourself as a sourcer: a ‘generalist or specialist’ which I’ll cover at another time. The point is, whether you’re a generalist sourcer or one that focuses on a particular vertical, you should always be working towards building your connections while being aware of your status within the bigger community. Why? Because you never know when you might need to revisit a source and it’s much easier to maintain relations than reinventing the wheel.
The workshop also covered a lot of other pertinent points like the use of LinkedIn Group (up to it’s 50 limit), being an ethical sourcer when approaching associations for assistance, LinkedIn Recruiter vs. Boolean Search.
What are your thoughts on building a niche community? Have you attempted this? What barriers did you face and how did you overcome them?