All of these buzzwords describe the same thing — the idea of building a community of individuals whose skills you will need before there is an immediate opening for them. The idea is to strengthen the bonds between these people and the organization so that when the need arises, it’s a simple matter of picking up the phone.
In theory, of course.
In practice, I’ve seen too many software solutions aimed at creating these “communities” turn out to be little more than databases with candidate names and contact information. I’ve seen too many companies fall in love with the idea (which is a really good one), but not put in them time necessary to implement them in a way that realized the concept’s potential.
As background, Meetup is a software company that enables group organizers to create and manage events. It helps people organize more than 100,000 face-to-face events each month. Its site is simple to use, and with only 58 employees the company, has developed a passionate fan following.
With such a devoted base of users, it’s not a surprise that many people want to work at Meetup. In a classic example of eating its own dogfood, Linda has developed the Working@Meetup group in order to develop relationships with potential employees.
The group currently has 424 members. Each month Linda organizes a face-to-face Meetup with 25 new people from this group at the Meetup headquarters. Those attending the Meetups get the chance to talk to current employees, get wowed by their cool office space (which is just up the block from ERE’s not-quite-as-cool digs), and get a feel for the culture of the company.
Early in the program, Meetup was getting a lot of very excited and very unqualified people signing up for the events, so it adapted. The current process prequalifies people to make sure that they are local and have skills in areas that the company needs before they can join the group.
The candidate experience is a seamless interaction with the Meetup brand; they sign up via the company’s product; get to tour the office, and meet the team. The people at Meetup get the chance to evaluate a group of prospects, develop relationships with them before they are critically needed, and leave a great impression.
Meetup found a way to run their program without expensive software, and they also did not forget that there’s no replacement for good, old-fashioned human touch.
Its program is simple, but I think it’s a great example of a company that’s done things right.
I’d love to see other examples of organizations doing this well. If you know any, let me know in the comments!