With an estimated 25 million global users and as many as 20,000 events per day, it’s easy to see why tech recruiters are combing the membership rosters of local Meetup groups to find candidates for open positions.
In you’re not familiar with the platform, Meetup is a network of local community groups that allows tech pros with similar skills, interests and passions to connect online and in-person to discuss the latest Hadoop distro, hot open source project or iOS release.
However, capturing the attention of the tech aficionados you find on Meetup isn’t always easy. For starters, seasoned tech veterans are inundated with job opportunities. And second, members join primarily to talk shop, not to engage with recruiters.
Meghan Maher, talent manager and head of engineering recruitment for OpenView Venture Partners, an investment and development firm that specializes in software companies, finds that a potentially low response rate from engineers on Meetup means she needs to pursue “a multipronged strategy to engage the tech pros they find through Meetup.”
Here’s a look at the rules of engagement and the secret to turning the tech pros you find on Meetup into potential new hires.
Personalized, Quality Outreach
A quick glance at a candidate’s Meetup profile alone may not yield enough information to create an insightful, tantalizing introductory pitch. And frankly, peppering professionals with generic job descriptions and mismatched opportunities is a waste of time.
For example, Aaron Maxwell receives cold emails from recruiters at least every other day. The busy software engineer and entrepreneur doesn’t bother responding to “canned” pitches that fail to convey an understanding of his priorities or Python specialization.
“Some emails pitch C# roles or jobs outside my technical universe,” Maxwell said. “It’s clear that the recruiter hasn’t bothered to study my digital footprint.”
“Software engineers aren’t necessarily motivated by money and they don’t want to be a cog,” he explained. “We want to pursue opportunities where we can master our craft or build our legacy.”
Maher peruses GitHub and other professional networking sites to obtain a more holistic view of the candidates she finds on Meetup. At the same time, she’s studying their communication preferences, openness to contact and the best way to approach them. Tools such as Dice’s Open Web, which aggregates data from Meetup, GitHub and 130+ other social sites, can speed this process by providing more complete professional and personal background so you can easily personalize your approach. It even tells you a candidate’s most used social network.
“I mention two separate things that set the candidate apart in my initial outreach,” Maher said. “I may Tweet back at them, invite them to connect, or email them at work to gauge their interest in engaging in a conversation.”
Take the Long View
If a software engineer isn’t interested in pursuing an immediate opening, Maher takes the long view. First, she invites passive candidates to follow the company on Twitter or Facebook. In her experience, offering something of value and touching base quarterly frequently pays off in six to 12 months.
“Forget about filling the job and focus on building a relationship,” she said. “Invite a prospect out for coffee so you can find out more about their career interests and goals.”
“I’m more inclined to engage with a recruiter who takes an interest in advancing my career, instead of a transactional approach,” Maxwell added. “For example, I’d like to hear about a job that I’m not quite ready for or one that provides a path or stepping stone to a VP or CTO role.”
Tag Team Approach
Meetup members have the ability to communicate with prospects that recruiters are unable to reach, so Maher shares her list of prospects with developers and engineers who work for OpenView companies.
These “super connectors” look for opportunities to pique a candidate’s interest by injecting tidbits about cutting edge projects or attributes that distinguish their company’s technical environment into interactions with Meetup peers.
Also, members can volunteer to host events at their worksite. Onsite Meetups give candidates a chance to see the environment and mix with recruiters and company leaders. Selling softly, subtly and strategically encourages engagement, networking and referrals.
Maxwell summed it up this way: “People don’t mind being sold to, as long as it doesn’t feel like they’re being sold to.”