Is Networking Still Relevant to the Recruitment Industry?

With so much information conveniently available at their fingertips have consultants changed their focus from face to face networking to communicating online with prospects.

As the popularity of social media sites grew so did the need for recruitment software to tap into this wealth of information. The software has become so fast and accurate that consultants have more prospect candidate information than they could have dreamed just a few short years ago.

So with all this information conveniently available at their fingertips have consultants changed their focus from face to face networking to communicating online with prospects?

Just like the title of the 1979 hit song ‘Video Killed the Radio Star’ you could assume that networking met a similar fate following the introduction of social media. While there’s no doubt that social media has had a big impact on the industry, has it completely taken over some parts of the recruiters’ role?

With so many options to make contact with prospective clients and candidates from the comfort of their office in front of their laptop, why would recruitment consultants want to spend valuable time networking?

Networking Short-comings
Networking is time consuming. In the time it takes you to drive to an event, grab yourself a drink, move around the room until it’s time to head home, you will probably have managed to make a connection with a dozen or so attendees.

Unless it was a speed networking event, that same time spent on the phone or, better still, sending emails you could have connected with ten times that number of candidates. Events are often held outside work hours so you’re probably missing out on valuable family time. You may have had to negotiate more traffic than you would on a normal work day. Then there’s the days when you’ve already put in eight long hours at the office and you really don’t feel like making small talk with strangers

With all the hard work surrounding networking, it’s easy to think of it as something that had to done up to the early noughties. Just 15 years ago, our personal and business lives were very different. Social media sites weren’t available. But as the new technologies launched and matured, the employment industry changed with it. Recruitment consultants could locate and communicate with prospects on a cheaper, easier and larger scale than ever before and so they embraced like few other industries have done so.

Social Media Sites
In 2003 LinkedIn was launched softly, some days only growing by 20 subscriptions. By 2005 there were over 1 million subscribers and Job and Subscriptions lines were introduced and the recruitment industry began to take interest. Consultants now had access to view prospect candidate CV’s online without even making contact.

Facebook was launched in 2004. Starting out as a university social networking platform, the site was opened up to UK universities in 2005 and then the wider community soon after. Facebook has given recruitment consultants a location based method of finding large volumes of people.

Twitter launched in 2006. While messages are only short 140 characters, users can include hashtags and links to other sites, making it an ideal medium for business as well as personal use. Some industries had a fast uptake of Twitter while other industries were slow to embrace the site.

Recruitment Software Makes Social Media Searchable
Once the main social media sites had been launched and recruitment consultants had discovered the wealth of information available in the public domain, they wanted to be able to access the information quickly and accurately to allow them to locate suitable candidates easily.

Recruitment software companies like eBoss+ wanted to make it possible for consultants to boost their database searches by opening their searches up to the world if they wanted. When an eBoss+ user wants to expand a search from their database only to include social media site, consultants simply click on a relevant tab. Gaining access to global CV sites, social media and talent pools has greatly increased the chance of finding the best possible candidates for a position. The powerful social media search is a great selling tool for eBoss+ users to gain new clients.

Networking is Still Relevant
With all these mediums available it would be understandable if the recruitment industry turned its back on networking. After all consultants had all the candidates they could want at their fingertips however if they were going to match these candidates with prospective employers they needed to attract clients.

For well over 15 years’ people have been doing business with people they know and like. Social media sites have failed to change this. And to really get to know someone you can’t beat meeting them face to face. For many agencies the focus on networking is to acquire new clients rather than meet potential clients.

Rise of Networking
BNI is the largest business networking and referral organisation. Launched in 1985 it continues to grow and now boasts 190,000 members in 7,300 chapters worldwide. In the UK there are 12,000 members in the UK and Ireland. They pass 660,000 referrals totalling 421 million every year. BNI gives recruitment consultants the opportunity of meeting business owners in their area who may require assistance with their recruitment. With only one representative from each trade or profession allowed in each chapter, the consultant is almost guaranteed to gain the referral.

Meetups is another popular worldwide networking group. Meetups allows attendees to find groups in their local community to improve themselves through education or to improve their community. Less formal than the BNI approach, Meetups have been set up by recruiters looking for clients in their local area or industry niche.

Networking Remains Popular
Despite all of the new mediums of communication, networking has never been so popular.
Meeting in person allows consultants to find out what they have in common with a prospective client, to develop a rapport and establish a relationship that is built on trust. Learning about each other’s business gives them an insight into how they can help and make a difference.

The simple fact is people do business with people they know, like and trust. So if it’s new clients you’re looking to acquire, grab some business cards and find the right networking group for you.


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