Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Hiring is something many founders don’t want to have to think about, and as a result, many businesses are reactive, rather than proactive, when it comes to filling vacancies. When an employee gives notice, companies typically post ads for the position, search for a group of suitable candidates, hold interviews, and finally, make an offer.
While this might be “the way it’s always been done,” the internet in general and social media in particular have drastically changed how people are recruited and hired. Here’s why being in a state of “always hiring” works well these days, and how you can change your recruiting and networking practices to make it easier.
Related: How to Attract Smart Millennials Through Better Job Descriptions
You never know who you’ll find
Ever meet that person on a business trip or at a trade show and think, “If only I had someone like that at my company?” But, they lived a thousand miles from your home office. That distance was once a deal breaker. Not anymore. If you have a need that can be met by letting someone contribute remotely, nowadays there’s probably nothing stopping you from making a remote hire.
If you don’t have an immediate opening, shake their hand, exchange business cards, and keep in touch. There are people who can add tremendous value to your business and if you happen to meet one with skills you’re looking for, keep their info. They could be a good fit in the months or even years ahead.
You never know when someone at your company will leave
One thing people often overlook is the impact when key team members leave suddenly or can’t come to work for an extended period of time. In today’s rapidly changing workforce, someone’s always leaving for other opportunities or even retiring early. And, less predictable things like family illnesses or sudden tragedies can cause a person you rely on heavily to take time off.
Replacing institutional memory isn’t easy. The accumulated experience in and knowledge of your organization’s processes, products and people is invaluable. Networking with people who have experience that could be crucial to your company gives you a backup contingency. Build up a bullpen of possible candidates who can be contacted in case you lose a key employee for some reason. You might even want to hire some of these prospects along the way for different positions so they’re already onboard and ready to handle other duties if needed.
Related: Remote Work Anxiety is Real. Here\’s How to Help Employees Who Have It.
Networking advertises your business
The power of networking cannot be overstated. It’s one of those things that helps your company in ways both large and small, and it can never hurt. When you’re networking and meeting people, you’re constantly talking about your company to people while they’re talking about their skills with you.
This is helpful because it lets you do some basic vetting without the constraints of a formal interview process. You never know what ideas others may have for you during this free-form information exchange. And, if you end up hiring someone, they’ll come in with a higher level of knowledge about your company.
Networking doesn’t have to be done face-to-face anymore. Most conferences at this point are still at least partially done virtually through platforms like Zoom. Also, social media sites like LinkedIn have really enhanced an organization’s ability to get to know talent. More than simply an online resume, LinkedIn is also a social platform that keeps track of contacts as well as the contacts of contacts. It’s also an online publishing platform that lets you read and give feedback on peoples’ ideas. An employer now can gain more information than ever about prospective candidates before a first formal communication is ever initiated.
Related: 8 Zoom Etiquette Rules Everyone Should Follow
It’s nice to meet new people and take a step back from work
For the extroverts among us, one of the things that makes ongoing business travel, trade shows and conferences tolerable is getting to meet new people. The format of these events can be basically the same from one to another, but the people always change. Getting to meet and know your clients, vendors and competitors on a personal level can give you fascinating perspectives on folks you may have only previously known via an email or conference call.
Life on the road or in airplanes is interesting, and you never know who you’ll meet or what you’ll learn. One founder told me about how she went on a business trip to Iowa to support software that a client purchased from her. She got some useful information on how to grow corn and tomatoes from the client, who had grown up on a nearby farm.
I remember one time I caught a flight from Phoenix to Denver with a vendor who was also heading that way. I found out through some conversation that in a previous life, he was an NBA referee. Air travel can get old of course. But, thankfully, people never do. That person sitting next to you at the airport terminal might just be a future team member.
Related: Why Playing Video Games is Good for Your Business and Your Employees