A successful direct sourcing program includes an active and vibrant independent talent community. Independents gravitate toward such a community when there are additional advantages to them and their businesses besides project work. They ask, “What’s in it for me?” to determine if spending time and energy on a given opportunity is worthwhile.
Answering that question for your independent talent community starts with policies and processes that make engagement easy and quick. Beyond that beginning, offering ongoing opportunities and resources that help community members to expand their skills and grow their businesses is key to effectiveness.
There are many options to choose from when putting together your independent talent community’s offerings. Examples include:
- Email campaigns
- Virtual events
- In-person events
- Tools and calculators
- Special interest groups
- Intercommunity communication/networking
- Training/certification opportunities
Set Up a Roadmap
Launching one or more offerings that seem to be “good ideas” without a plan in place is not likely to be optimally effective. Plan a timeline for your offerings by constructing a realistic roadmap that fosters community growth and robustness. Select and time offerings to align with your company’s goals, culture, and direct sourcing program.
When the community is young, for example, slot in email campaigns and blog articles, which can support other offerings later in your timeline. Hone effectiveness by tracking metrics and adjusting for improvement. Add from there in a direction that makes sense for your direct sourcing program goals. This could be establishing training/certification opportunities for community members, launching a podcast focused on independent professionals, or connecting members through a chat platform. Continue to monitor results and improve your offerings. As your community grows, you could add periodic virtual and/or in-person events.
The following examples can build a good cadence of touchpoints with your community.
Email Campaign Example: Monthly Newsletter
A monthly newsletter can be an effective first offering to your independent talent community. Use short pieces with useful information, simple calls to action, and easy ways to share the content. Regular features can include summaries and links to current open roles, spotlights on needed skills areas, and educational content. Periodic features can include a community member story or a profile of a company manager, team, or department. Include a call to action for readers to invite friends and business colleagues to join the independent talent community.
Virtual Event Example: Quarterly Webinar Series
A quarterly webinar series can cover a wide range of topics of interest to independent professionals. Episodes can feature community members, hiring managers, and business experts and can be formatted as panel discussions or single guest conversations. You can invite audience participation through polling during the episode or a question-and-answer session at the end. Keep each episode short—no more than 45 minutes with an extra 15 minutes allotted to questions—and focus on content that can be acted upon by audience members.
Live Event Example: Annual Symposium
Gather community members for in-person interactions with other members and company managers and staff. Introduce company leadership to community members through a keynote address by an executive. Make the best use of the in-person format with sessions that rely on live activity. Conduct a “speed meet” fashioned on speed dating, where independent talent and hiring managers rotate through short, timed conversations about open roles and skill needs in a fun environment. Offer live training sessions that include a lot of audience participation. Make sure there are a lot of networking opportunities for all participants.
Building a flourishing independent talent community takes a focus on the interests and needs of community members and a plan to execute over time. A commitment to such an initiative can produce a high return on the resources invested.