June 6, 2019
Patrick: So I’m here with my good friend, Keith Anderson who in my humble opinion may be the best IT staffer in all of Atlanta.
Keith: May is not the operative word I would use, but thank you.
Patrick: Yeah seriously, he and I’ve been friends for a long time and we’ve done a ton of networking together and so that’s what we’re going to talk about today is just some of the best ways to network. I think you’re a genius at it.
Keith: Thank you. Ok, we’ll see, we’ll see what I have to say.
Patrick: And since you are in you know, the staffing business you obviously are networking a lot with both candidates but also people that are looking for you know-
Patrick: Candidates to hire. So it’s just part of- it’s just inbred in you.
Keith: It is.
Patrick: It’s something you do every single day.
Patrick: Whether you know it or not.
Keith: Got to do it every day.
Patrick: So with that you know, one of the things that I would kind of question and throw out there is what are the best ways to network or to get introductions?
Keith: Well, it comes back to you know, being intentional.
Keith: You know, I think I said to you earlier that you don’t kind of go looking for referrals when you need them.
Patrick: Cause then it’s too late.
Keith: Then it’s too late. It’s kind of like dieting or working out. When you’re in a rush to do either, it’s going to be really painful and it’s not going to be very effective.
Keith: So do a little bit of it every day. I would say, make it about the other person.
Keith: So if I’m calling you to get an introduction to somebody else, try and add some value to your day as well.
Keith: But then ultimately, I always try to make it as easy for the person that I am asking a referral from to help me.
Keith: And that goes back to being intentional. So you know, do your homework instead of just saying who do you know? Already you know, kind of have a sneaking suspicion of 2 or 3 people that they’re connected to or that they’ve worked with in the past.
Patrick: Right, right.
Keith: And say hey you must know Patrick, you must know Ben Buie.
Keith: You know, on LinkedIn they say if you reference a person’s name that a stranger that you don’t know knows- you get something like a 70% response.
Keith: You know, so it’s just the same principal.
Patrick: Gotcha and that makes sense. I mean, do your homework, reach out, and know who you want to ask about.
Patrick: You know, I hate to say it, but the Northwestern Mutual people are really good about that, annoyingly so cause they’re always like written it down, come here, and here are the 10 people. So make it a little more natural.
Keith: Definitely make it more conversational, a little bit more natural. But be transparent. You know?
Keith: People you know, – a lot of recruiters can get jaded.
Keith: Cause you’re constantly reconciling a lot of different people’s expectations. And as with all sales and business development, you’re getting a lot of no’s. But it’s been my firm belief that 99% of people want to help somebody else. You just got to get them a compelling business reason to do so or just be transparent or make it easy for them to do so.
Patrick: Yeah. Before I ask about the job market because I’m curious to hear your thoughts on it. Are there any kind of golden rules or things that you live by when it comes to networking and introductions?
Keith: I mean, I always pay it forward.
Keith: I mean, you’re really good about making referrals to me. And I try and reciprocate.
Patrick: You do a good job reciprocating, thank you.
Keith: Thank you, thank you.
Yeah, I mean, we’ve both done a fair couple of transactions.
Keith: Pretty recently. Because we were thinking of each other.
Keith: So you know, I always reward the people that reward me and that’s not you know- you do business with people you like doing business with.
Keith: And I know that it’s not a quid pro quo, but I’ve got a lot of respect for you so if I’m going to refer somebody in the real estate industry, you’re my first thought.
Keith: Even if it’s not right, because I figure I know you’ll point them in the right direction. So I know the person is being taken care of. So you know, again it’s always trying to make it about the other person and not about you.
Patrick: Yeah, I remember Jim Huling gave me a good book. He was at Matrix Resources forever, the CEO. And it was called Net Weaving which is kind of a boring book. And I’m just going to sum it up for everybody right here. You know what I’m talking about?
Keith: Yeah, I’m very familiar with it.
Patrick: You’re familiar with it? It is the thought that as long as- it’s kind of like karma. You’re paying it forward and as long as you continue to pay it forward, eventually it will come back to you.
Patrick: You know? I think Steve Beecham, BassAcwards or marketing or whatever he is. Like he talks about that too.
Keith: Well, when I first got started in the business, we didn’t have LinkedIn. You couldn’t run you know, ads would be on Sunday they’d cost you 15 grand for a 3×5.
Patrick: Right, right.
Keith: So you didn’t get those very often. And so we used to play this game called the name game and you just pick up a file of you know, somebody who you interviewed previously and you’d strike up a conversation with them and you’d see how many conversations you could have because you spoke to that person and you knew where they worked
Keith: And who they knew. You tried to see how far you could take it. Which goes back to kind of one of my golden rules which is- It’s not where you begin, it’s where you end up.
Patrick: I like that.
Keith: And you never know where it’s going to take you.
Keith: So and just having an open mind that it’s not always a straight line.
Patrick: I like that. Alright, so now the job market.
Patrick: Best ever for candidates?
Keith: Yes, I’ve – this will date me. I’ve been through three economic cycles in this industry.
Patrick: Oh gosh, yep.
Keith: And this is by far the tightest labor market and across all segments. I mean, they entire economy is fired on all cylinders.
Keith: And has been doing so for a while. And will hopefully continue doing so for a while.
Keith: But yes, I mean it’s also the highest velocity job market I’ve ever seen.
Keith: Meaning that people don’t stay in jobs as long as they used to.
Keith: Companies don’t want people to stay in jobs as long as they used to.
Patrick: Which we talked about.
Keith: Yep. So it’s kind of a two way street and so you’ve got- the irony is the tighter the labor market, the easier it is to recruit people.
Keith: Because they perceive making a change as being less risky.
Patrick: Oh, that makes sense.
Keith: If this one doesn’t work out, I can always find another one.
Patrick: So what advice are you giving the companies that are hiring you to go find people? Like how do you attract that top talent?
Keith: Yep. So a couple of things- one, don’t go looking when you need it. It goes back to what I said earlier that that’s going to be hard and painful and you’ll usually end up with the most readily available candidate.
Keith: Versus the one you really want.
Patrick: Not the best.
Keith: And sometimes, that can be the right person.
Keith: But, when you’re- you know, if you have a particular tech stack or you’re in a particular segment of the industry, I specialize in working with a lot of emerging you know, 50 to say 500 employee companies. So their engineering departments can be you know, anywhere from 10 to maybe 50. You know, that’s pretty sizable.
Keith: But you know, not giant. The number one untapped resource that they have are the people that are already working in their department.
Patrick: Ah, good point.
Keith: So going back to you know, asking for referrals most internal HR people would say well yeah, we have a referral bonus program. But that’s kind of passive. You’re waiting for someone to have something you know, like one of their buddies call them and then they refer them to HR.
Keith: Next thing you know you get a you know, a cash bonus or something. Be a little bit more intentional. Be proactive. And constantly be you know, not in an annoying way but constantly following up with your best performing engineers. And you know, know where they used to work.
Keith: Look at who they used to work with. They may not be where they were before. And say hey, you must know Raj, Jack, and Carolyn. Good people? Would they fit in here with our tech stack and culture?
Keith: Would you like to work with them again?
And if they say yes, then great. Reach out to them and reference that you know, we’re speaking about you.
Keith: You used to work with Patrick and spoke highly of you and so wanted to talk to you. Don’t sell them a job. Just start an introduction, start a dialogue. And make it about them. How are you doing? Do you feel like you’re some place that you know, is giving you the opportunity to get exposed to the tools and the business and technical issues that are keeping you really engaged? And if so, great, congratulations. If not, let’s talk about how we might be able to engage you.
Patrick: I like it. Good advice.
Patrick: Well Keith, thank you. Appreciate it.
Keith: My pleasure.
Keith: You guys need any IT staffing, he’s the man. I mean, seriously. I’ve watched you hire people left and right for a certain company that’s both our clients and I mean, they’ve grown- I mean, I can’t even tell you how fast they’ve grown. And you continue to put people in front of them.
Patrick: Good people, too.
Keith: Yep. Yeah, we stood that company up in what?
45 days. So-
Patrick: Yes we did.
Patrick: So appreciate you, Keith.
Keith: My pleasure, thank you.