Dating and business are two parts of life you wouldn’t normally compare. However, especially in the talent access world, both involve putting yourself out there and getting to know new people, in the hopes of forming powerful, positive connections.
Search professionals are always working to attract new customers, expand their recruiting networks, and make their voices heard. These might sound like business objectives, but if we bring a dating-like sensibility to these professional interactions, we can build authentic and meaningful relationships with clients, partners, and candidates.
Keep reading to learn how you can apply a ‘business dating’ philosophy to growing your personal brand online.
Make Every Touchpoint Thoughtful
Think of your website and social feeds as subtle points of contact — almost like going for coffee with a new person. The content you share on your website, via social channels, and by email should be designed to attract new customers, retain existing connections, and help them both get to know you better.
Tailor how you communicate depending on the channel — it’s likely that there are places you can share more, or go a little deeper. For example, your personal Instagram account might be a more intimate channel than your LinkedIn page – does it make sense that it be public and shared? The content you create online creates a narrative about who you are. Be intentional.
Crystallize Your Brand
The goal of great branding is to be consistent in how you show up to prospective customers. The first step is to understand what your readers expect from you. Are they expecting your brand to be warm and personable, or more professional and polished? As with most things, balance is always best — and not every brand needs to be “human”.
As individuals, we tend to form meaningful connections and attract new people if we focus on giving back and providing value, rather than being transactional, overly promotional, or a taker.
Imagine you went for dinner, but your date acted like they were at a job interview, only sharing basic, objective facts about their achievements in a salesy and self-serving manner? You wouldn’t leave that date feeling like you got to know them very well. If you don’t humanize your brand to your recruiting network, that’s how your prospective customers will feel, too.
Know Who You’re Speaking To
A good conversation goes both ways. Establishing customer personas is an incredibly important part of creating a marketing strategy, and a lot of it comes down to listening. If you take the time to understand what your target audiences want and need, they will appreciate your attentiveness and likely feel more connected to you as a result.
Most recruiters have two or three target personas. These personas can include candidates as well as clients, meaning they will have very different needs. To communicate well with your network as a recruiter, start by documenting your target personas in detail. Then, evaluate your content and interactions. Is it clear who each piece of your content is designed for? Do you have the proper content mix or are you too focused on one persona? Does your content even align with your target personas at all?
This doesn’t necessarily mean doubling up on efforts. You can get creative to address multiple audiences through a single concept. For instance, poll your candidate pool on their preference between a permanent WFH structure, a hybrid model, or a full in-person return to work. Then, share the results with your client audience so that they can consider how they’re attracting great people. Both sides will feel heard and catered to.
Make It a Conversation
Professionals who are speaking to an entire industry need to consider how everything they publish works together. Remember, this is a conversation, not a one-and-done announcement.
Ask yourself how your content will compound on itself, to keep building your reputational equity. Especially when looking to establish your individual subject matter expertise, choose a few topics to cover, and think about how you can deepen and develop them over time.
It’s important to think about the journey — chances are you won’t secure a new client through a single online interaction. You’re building relationships with your audience. This takes time and genuine interest in helping them.
You wouldn’t meet someone multiple times in public and say “Hi, nice to meet you, this is what I do!” over and over. The goal is to structure your communications like an ongoing conversation, so that the information you share gets more specific, more insightful, and more targeted as you go.
You’re Already Business Dating
Business dating may sound like a completely new concept, but it’s really just a different way to look at your online branding and business development efforts through a friendly, humanized lens. Choosing your words carefully, paying attention to your audience, and having great listening skills are great strategies whenever you’re communicating — whether that’s at work, in person, online, or in social settings.