It was March 2016 and I just left the cold of Denver and landed in Orlando. This just so happened to be one of my favorite cities in the world because it is home to one of the most magical places: Disney World. Not only was this my first SourceCon, but it was just outside of one of the happiest places on Earth. My mother had made the same joke over and over that week, “You’re going to Disney World, where you will be with the best sourcer of them all.” Of course, she was talking about Mickey Mouse and now you probably know where I get all of my cheesy humor from. I had recently left the company that gave me my start in sourcing and I just started a remote role in the veterinary industry. I was still new to sourcing but was so excited to be in the same room as a bunch of other people like me and learn from them. Like most of us, my significant other, family, friends – none of them knew what I did for work. I did like we all do and just told them, “I am a Recruiter.”
During SourceCon Orlando, one of the rooms ran an open discussion where people took the mic and talked about the weirdest way they found contact information. Here we were going around the room talking about the stealthiest and most innovative ways we had found an email or a phone number for a potential candidate. I had found my people! When I mentioned mine, I received some surprising faces from the audience and realized that this was where I belong.
It wasn’t long into the conference that I realized I wanted to one day be up on that stage. I had been doing stand-up comedy for a few years and also played music around New England, so I knew that it wasn’t stage fright that was going to hold me back. What I needed to do was get more experience under my belt, become a subject matter expert, and make some connections.
Over the next few years, I connected with presenters on LinkedIn, followed their posts, reached out to them for advice, and just got to know how they worked. Every single Sourcer is extremely different. While some work in the same industries, for the same companies, in the same roles – they all operate differently. Some use tools the others have never heard of. Some swear by one tool while others find its competitor more useful. It is extremely valuable to learn from many people at these conferences and after you, all leave and go back home.
For the next few years, I was able to attend more conferences; Atlanta and Austin. I’ve always enjoyed traveling for work and seeing new places and that’s always been a great part of SourceCon. While at my last in-person conference, in Atlanta last year, I posted in the general chat of Whova that one of my favorite bands just so happened to be playing in town that night. I received a few responses from other Sourcers I had never met before and we now had something to bond over. And one of these people was a presenter, which was a bonus.
Over the past year, I managed to get in with a very big group SourceCon experts and just overall very talented people in the industry. What did we bond over you ask? 90 Day Fiance. Give me a break, during quarantine, there is not much to do and our weekly programs weren’t on air due to production being shut down. Anyway, I posted about our quick obsession with this reality television train wreck of a show and was invited into a 90 Day Fiance chat on Facebook with SourceCon presenters. Sometimes, you go to them and sometimes they come to you. Be personable. It isn’t always just about talking about the newest CRM or Chrome extension. Sometimes it’s just complimenting someone at the conference because their shirt is your favorite sports team. Or because they used to work at your previous company and you want to see how your old colleagues are doing.
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My advice for you if you would like to be on the stage one day as well, make connections. We are in the business of making connections, we connect with new people on LinkedIn every day. We come up with creative ways to sell the candidate on our company and roles and this is no different than the approach you should be taking to getting your name out there. Sourcers are on LinkedIn all day, every day. And we are a rare breed. If one Sourcer sends another a connection request, it will probably be accepted quickly. Build up your network this way. But just like when you would connect with fellow Sourcers in a job search, don’t just reach out asking them, “What can you show me to help me find new people?” Find out what these Sourcers like outside of work and use this in your introduction. Watch a video they posted and ask for a follow-up. Tell them how you found success in their industry and you might just introduce them to something new. The great thing about the top Sourcers in the industry is that they remember when they came from. They remember the early days of being a Sourcer. They will not judge you for not knowing the same amount as them. Or knowing the same amount of tools like them. As I said, there aren’t many Sourcers out there, so when we find one another, there is always a lot to talk about.
If you are thinking about writing for SourceCon, here are some things you can write about:
• A new people search engine
• A new Chrome extension
• A recent win at work
• How to save time Sourcing
• The power of Excel
• How to influence HMs
• How to write the perfect job description
If you want to make connections at SourceCon, here are some things to do:
- Thank speakers for their presentations and ask follow-up questions
- Meet new people at the hotel bar
- Separate yourself from your colleagues or friends who you might be there with and make some new friends
- Talk to other Sourcers about the sponsors and ask if they have had success with those tools