Over the past five years or so I have been actively involved in running tech events throughout London whilst also working as an internal recruiter for various tech companies and the one thing I wish I had realised sooner is the power of Tech Marketing when it comes to building a pipeline of interesting candidates for your startup.
At this point, most tech companies know that a sure-fire way to boost your candidate pipeline (the number of people interested in working for your company) is to sponsor tech events targeted specifically at the type of person/people you are trying to recruit. Event sponsorship has become surprisingly expensive as the demand rises exponentially.
If you are not in a position to throw £15k at an event, there is one other option that is not only free, but exponentially more effective at attracting new talent. Speaking instead of sponsoring.
Speaking Vs Sponsoring
Both have their merits but speaking at events is all too often overlooked as a method to build interest in working for your company or team. I help to run the largest, regular tech meet-up in Europe. Every month we have a small number of sponsors who pay a lot of money to have their brand plastered all over our event and get two minutes at the start of the event to stand on stage and address the 500 strong audience to tell them why they are sponsoring (95% of the time it’s because they are hiring). We also have three or four speakers every month who talk about a variety of topics ranging from ‘Cultural Anthropology of Stack Exchange’ to ‘3D Worlds in CSS3’. During the breaks and after the final talk, the speakers consistently have a queue of people wanting to speak to them and ask them questions whilst the sponsors tend to hang around on the edges hoping (usually in vain) for people to come and speak to them.
Now, you might think the sponsors are getting a raw deal here. After all, they paid a lot of money to put themselves in front of this audience whereas the speakers paid nothing. The reality is that sponsoring events usually isn’t a quick fix but it categorically pays dividends in the long run.
The market for hiring developers is insanely crowded, aggressive and daunting. Developers (at least in London) usually have the luxury of having a number of different companies bending over backwards to convince them to join their team. To win this battle you must first think about what the developer wants and how you can make it blatantly obvious that you can offer them exactly that.
Speaking as a Quick Fix
If you only have one or two vacancies and you don’t plan on hiring again for some time, put your money away. Reach out to event organisers with a one paragraph description of a topic you (or a member of your team) would like to speak about and why that topic is relevant or of interest to their audience and more often than not, you will get a chance to go on stage at their next event and deliver that talk. Running regular tech events is hard. Finding decent, relevant speakers every month is an incredibly difficult thing to do, more so if you don’t do it full-time. All too often, organisers are grateful to have someone save them the hassle by coming to them with an interesting topic. Now, this logic doesn’t scale I’m afraid. If you are targeting large events, it is significantly more difficult to get your foot in the door as these events are usually inundated with speaker proposals. Start small and start local.
Talk about Talks
If you do sponsor events or speak at events, talk about it. If it’s not immediately obvious on your ‘About Us’ page that you sponsor EventX or Meet-upX then you are missing a blatant opportunity to win over the type of person you want to attract.
If you attend an event as a speaker, sponsor or even simply as an audience member, blog about it and share the link. Never underestimate the power of association. When people ask about the type of culture at your company, make a point of telling them that you actively encourage your team to speak at and attend events both for their own personal development and the benefit of the company.
Marketing the benefits of working for your company is a long game. It won’t immediately dig you out of a hole however it will prevent you from falling into those holes the next time. You don’t need a monumental budget or an extensive networking list. You simply need persistence and strategy and above all else, a fundamental belief that your company is worth working for.