When I first heard about SourceCon, I was living in Hawaii and managing the recruiting efforts of 12 hotel locations on four islands for a Fortune 500 hospitality company. I wanted to go – I really wanted to go – but it wasn’t going to happen. The distance and my schedule just wouldn’t allow it. One of the sacrifices for living in paradise, I suppose. Then, over the next couple of years, I was running my own company. When you‘re the boss, it’s not easy to get away. I had placements to make and there was money to be made.
However I couldn’t shake it: SourceCon sounded too good to be true. So many interesting people were there. Presenters who wrote the blogs that I had been reading for years. Real sourcers who were talking about cutting edge tools & techniques they actually used.
I liked that there were three distinct tracks (Fundamentals, Sourcing Labs, and Leadership) and that you could participate in whichever session or sessions you wanted. I also liked that it wasn’t about using one particular solution or tool, or a giant vendor expo where everyone got wasted while Garth Brooks played in a coliseum.
Billed as “The Must Attend Conference for All Things Souring”, this seemed like the real deal. Beginning to senior sourcers, leaders, speakers and visionaries, all in one place, talking about one of my favorite subjects: sourcing.
I couldn’t wait to experience it for myself.
Last year, I finally made it to SourceCon. I remember checking in and walking into the first main session. I had brought a 3” binder with dividers, partitions and tons of blank paper. I was finally there and was determined to soak up everything and take it home. The SourceCon app was downloaded and my paper agenda was already a mess of blue, green and yellow highlights. When I walked into the opening session, there were 300+ people and the buzz in the room was phenomenal!
So, how did it level-up my sourcing, you ask?
Learning From (And Networking With) the Best:
Most of us have quite a bit on our plates. If I could spend all my time attending webinars, jetting off to conferences, and reading blogs and other industry websites, I am sure I’d learn a lot. But I can’t.
Being at SourceCon, I had the opportunity to get away from day-to-day distractions and learn things that improved not only my daily sourcing, but also my ability to evangelize and drive change within my company. I heard from real people that knew their stuff through their own work, without vendors bankrolling or influencing the direct message.
For example, the opening general session was about how internet search is evolving and what that ultimately means for sourcers. The speaker talked about this book called “The Filter Bubble” by Eli Pariser, which explains how personalization in (and out) of browsers like Google Chrome customizes (and therefore excludes) results.
At that time, I’m not sure I would have read a book about web personalization on my own. I was familiar with the concept and knew that it was important to use different browsers for the best results when sourcing. But I didn’t think it was something I needed deep dive on.
However, in this session, I learned not only the ‘why’, but also what I can do to find hidden talent now and in the future. I learned more about alternative search engines and the “deep web” and how that impacts my job on a daily basis. All very valuable for the modern day sourcer.
I was also in the midst of building a sourcing team at the time. The Leadership Track was incredibly helpful in this regard. There were presentations from companies on how they built, launched, and ran direct sourcing teams – covering everything from establishing credibility and creating structure, to measuring ROI.
For me, the opportunity to ask these presenters direct questions (and network in person afterwards) was invaluable. I also found that after I asked a question, other sourcing professionals would introduce themselves and say “We’re trying to do that, too” or “We did it like this and this was the result”.
The advanced Sourcing Lab and more “entry-level” Fundamentals tracks included some great presentations by sourcers that covered everything from x-raying Google+, to digging into esoteric networking sites, to pipelining, to some amazingly-effective techniques to use while cold calling.
The following general sessions covered mobile recruiting, candidate engagement and employer branding (aka “Indirect Sourcing). I had always thought mobile recruiting wasn’t something I needed to worry about as an individual contributor. Now I know it is, and why.
Learning how world-class companies attract and engage candidates en masse and how you can leverage this as an individual contributor was so helpful and insightful to me. Now, when senior leadership asks my opinion on one of these topics, I can participate with dialogue that goes beyond what sound bite I happened to read about on Forbes or Twitter the other day.
New Tools, Tricks, and Trends:
Did you know there are free & cheap CRM tools that allow you to see when a prospect has viewed your email, thus providing insight into their level of interest and giving you a window into the best times to give them a follow-up phone call? Did you know you can create highly targeted emails that include personalized videos and track your campaign results on the back end? Did you know there are effective and highly accurate ways to leverage non-professional networking sites to target passive talent?
At SourceCon, I learned (or was reminded) of all of this and more. It’s enabled me to not only identify top talent faster, but also engage with them more effectively.
On the first day of SourceCon, I logged into Twitter, did a simple search for #sourcecon, and could see immediately a community of people that were all around me, networking and connecting on and offline.
I hadn’t had much time to devote to the social network in the past. After hearing from other sourcers on leveraging third-party search tools for sourcing Twitter, I felt I could do more with the social network. After I got home, I decided to commit some time on Sunday afternoons to learning how to maximize the tool and worked to build my network and establish a personal and professional brand.
Since then, I’ve increased my followers by over 2,000, as well as gained referrals and made hires from Twitter. I’ve also implemented trainings for my recruitment teams that have resulted in more referrals and hires.
I was able to do this, in part, because SourceCon helped me understand the power of social media, beyond the hype, and start using these tools with new vigor.
It’s Time to Decide:
It’s a new year and the economy is looking better than it has in years. Layoffs are at a 16-year low and I have a feeling hiring is about to skyrocket.
My hunch about SourceCon was right. I can’t wait to get back to learn more. If you’re ready for some innovative, competitor-killing, “I-did-this-and-this-is-how” sourcing creds, meet us in Seattle March 24th and 25th.
We’ll be waiting for you.