Kaitlin Pike

Almost every business struggles to find hardworking, reliable talent. But according to BlogHer’s COO Elisa Camahort Page, there is an easier way.

Elisa will speak at Web 2.0 Expo New York on Non-Traditional Hiring: Mining Your Customer Community as a Rich Hiring Pool. Citing examples from her own hiring experiences at BlogHer, Elisa’s session will highlight the methods your company can use to find brand evangelists, and define strategies that can help you uncover their relevant expertise and skills, and convert them into quality employees.

Working with evangelists is admittedly not a new concept, Elisa said, but many think of this from a marketing angle, not a hiring perspective.

“I’m advocating for the idea of looking beyond the surface and finding the people who bring with them something you can’t manufacture, which is brand loyalty and enthusiasm,” she said. “You know [your evangelists] in that thin slice of their life through Twitter and Facebook… but they actually have full rich lives with employment history and skills.”

BlogHer has hired a number of employees that were connected to their popular online community. For instance, they hired their first full-time events manager after receiving emails from her showing her enthusiasm for the brand, and their first full-time sales person was a blogger in the network. “They get us and love what we do, and coming to work for them feels like a mission.”

Reaching out to your community of brand loyalists can be much more effective than waiting for qualified candidates to find the job description and apply. At previous companies, Elisa also tried to hire by reaching out to her professional network, which depending on the job might work, or might be completely off the mark. “We had ourselves in a lot of boxes and our connections were very segmented and compartmentalized… Today we have so much more of a blending of the personal and professional.”

She recommends finding talent by engaging on platforms that encourage “in the moment” conversations such as Twitter or Google+. You should also check a possible candidate’s blog to see what they care about. By reading someone’s blog, “you get a real sense of how agile someone’s mind is,” she said. Additionally, you can meet in person at community meetup events or conferences (such as Web 2.0 Expo, hint – author’s input).

Once a brand evangelist joins your company, keep them excited about the brand by making sure they know their voice matters. “No one from your staff accountant to your HR manager wants to feel like a function… We don’t always say ‘yes’ because we can’t always do everything because people want opposing things…  A lot of times all people really care about is to know they were heard and considered.”

To learn more about hiring from your customer community pool, check out Elisa’s session next week. Register with code BLG20 to save 20%.



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