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The Internet and Relationships

The Internet has changed the way in which recruiters conduct business. That’s no big secret or revelation, but some of the changes aren’t as obvious as others. And the way in which recruiters form and maintain business relationships through the Internet is a change that’s more subtle than most.

Before discussing business relationships in particular, though, a few words about the Internet and relationships in general is probably merited. Overall, the Internet has drastically altered the way in which people form relationships with one another. It used to be, of course, that the only way to "meet" somebody was in person, face-to-face, so to speak. But the Internet has changed all that. Now people interact with each other all the time over the Internet before they even see each other, exchanging information about themselves.

In addition, people can join any number of online communities that are based largely on the sharing of a common interest. These individuals often set regularly scheduled times to meet face-to-face, since they are often located far apart from one another. And although they may not meet in person at all, people can still see what each other looks like with the help of a Web cam, which is now very affordable (and very popular) with people who utilize the Internet in this fashion.

When it comes to the forming of relationships, the rules have changed, in general and in the world of business. But the basic principles about forming relationships have remained unaltered. Forming and sustaining long-lasting relationships is still, far and away, the best way to conduct a successful business, and that includes the recruiting business.

Creating new opportunities
You probably lost count of the number of times you read somewhere or heard somebody say that the Internet was going to make recruiters obsolete. You probably also knew at the time that was a bunch of baloney, nothing but hype perpetuated by individuals who had no serious knowledge of the industry or how it worked. (It is true, however, that the advent of the Internet has weeded out the profession somewhat, eliminating those recruiters who made their living picking the low-hanging fruit on the talent tree.)

But the Internet did not come close to threatening the recruiting industry. In fact, what it’s done is provide exciting new opportunities for recruiters to form relationships with clients, candidates, and peers, and in the process, conduct better business and be more successful. So what was initially looked upon as the end of the recruiting profession has actually turned out to be a tremendous aid for those seeking to enhance and improve their recruiting process.

You may be asking yourself, "But how can I use the Internet to form and sustain relationships? I already have an email account. What is there besides that?" Well, as it turns out, there’s much more. Below are just some of the ways in which you can utilize the Internet to start creating the types of relationships that will lead to more business.

1. Create a newsletter for your clients and/or candidates. Newsletters used to be a costly procedure because they were strictly hard-copy versions. Not anymore. Now electronic newsletters can be produced and distributed relatively quickly and easily through the use of the Internet.

There are some recruiters who produce candidate-only newsletters, some who produce client-only newsletters, and some who do both. One of the reasons for this is that some recruiters prefer to focus on only one side of the business, either the candidate side or the client side. Regardless, electronic newsletters with solid content can help you to stay in touch with people, perhaps sparking a relationship or helping to maintain one.

What you can also do is create a separate Web site for your newsletter, something like myrecruiternewsletter.com, where you can display the most recent issue of the publication, archive an inventory of back issues, provide an easy sign-up for those who would like to receive the newsletter, offer related links, and include your email address.

2. Utilize email, online software, and an integrated Web site to further reach out to prospects. This technological combination of tools can greatly help recruiters to introduce themselves to both candidates and clients, and thus start to build relationships with each group. The process is rather simple, but the key ingredient is the integration that exists between all three tools. I’ve broken down the above procedure as follows:

A recruiter sends out an email to a prospective client, an email which contains a link to hot candidates from that recruiter’s online database. In the body of the email, the recruiter introduces themselves and invites the hiring manager to view these candidates.

The hiring manager (or decision maker) views the candidates and is also able to conduct another search with different criteria. Since the contact information of the candidates is blinded, the manager will have to contact the recruiter if they see a candidate of interest.

The recruiter follows up with a phone call, which is now a warm call as opposed to a cold one, and discusses the candidates with the hiring manager. Oftentimes, the hiring manager will call the recruiter instead. Talk about a hot call!

As you can see, not only does this method help recruiters to establish a relationship, it can prove to be much more effective than the traditional way of doing it (through cold-calling). And keep in mind that this can be done with candidates, as well. You just have to email to them a link of your hottest job orders. (For more information about this process, feel free to give me a call at 330-455-1433.)

3. Participate in an industry- or niche-related discussion forum or chat room. This is a good way in which to develop and foster relationships with other recruiters. There are a number of different benefits to developing these types of relationships, and I’ve listed two of the main ones below.

  • It’s a great way to leverage your business with split placements, especially if you find that you’re too busy to fill all of the job orders that are on your desk. And what if you’re given a job order that’s a little (or a lot) outside of your niche? Do you just tell your client, "Uh, sorry, I can’t do that." That doesn’t make much business sense. By forming relationships with other recruiters, you can turn to them for help in filling that job order. Not only do you make money with a split fee, you also build more credibility with that client in the process.
  • You have a support group that you can fall back on. Nobody understands the travails, frustrations, and pitfalls of being a recruiter more than another recruiter, especially during uncertain economic times. Discussion forums and chat rooms are a great way to solicit advice on certain topics, advice that is likely to be honest and straight-to-the point.

You can meet people in a discussion forum that you may never have met otherwise. That person might provide you with a piece of information that could result in a placement you never would have made if you hadn’t met them on that forum. In this fashion, the Internet provides an opportunity for recruiters to meet many more peers in the industry than they could do on their own.

Merging technology with tradition
These are only a few ways in which the Internet can help recruiters to spark the relationships that can lead to more business. Every year, the Internet evolves and changes, even if it’s only slightly, and it’s up to recruiters to take advantage of those changes and the opportunities that they present. Some of the most successful recruiters in the country today have merged the latest technology with traditional recruiting methods. Consequently, they benefit from the best of both worlds.

I must say at this point, though, that the Internet is a relationship tool, not a be-all, end-all when it comes to forming relationships. The Internet can help recruiters to start business relationships they may not have been able to start otherwise. However, it can not and should not stand by itself. When it’s time to take that relationship to the next level, talking on the telephone is a necessity. The relationship can still be maintained to a certain degree via email or some other Internet avenue, but when it comes to truly developing and fostering the relationship, speaking on the telephone is better. Better yet is meeting face-to-face. As wonderful as the Internet is, meeting face-to-face has always been and I suspect always will be the preferred method for developing relationships.

Relationships are part of the traditional recruiting methods, a cornerstone for industry success that has remained unchanged since recruiting emerged as a viable profession. The Internet, on the other hand, is a very new phenomenon, one fraught with potential as well as peril. If used correctly, however, you can merge the two to create a streamlined and highly effective recruiting process, one that will bring as much personal satisfaction as it brings financial rewards.

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