The meet-up scene, at least during COVID, has been disrupted, however, when everyone is back on the streets and in the office, the power of humanity, relationships and connections, will again thrive within the Tech community. 
Tom, our resident Cloud guru, and meet-up advocate, has detailed his primary tips of how to benefit from your time at future meet-ups (both online and in-person).
 

Every recruitment market is different, whether it’s a different geographical location, the market itself or the vertical within that location, they all have their own niches, skillsets, personalities, but most importantly, their own people. 

I’ve been fortunate enough to work in three completely separate markets; two at different ends of the spectrum. I started my career in London, which is fast paced, transactional, where contract roles would have a 24 hour turn around and the battle for permanent talent was tough, because people were heavily weighted towards the benefits of contracting. Still here, the meet-up scene thrived, and we were regular attendees of our own meet-ups which were thrown around multiple different topics. You’d rarely see any recruiters here, be it internal or external apart from your friends of whom you shared an office space with.

In 2018, I decided to move away from London to the sunny skies of Sydney, to a different way of recruiting, where although there was still a heavy slant towards transactional recruitment it became more about knowing your candidates, meeting them, and genuinely understanding their true needs from a tech and personal perspective. Again, in Syd, the meet-up scene thrived, and I was fortunate to be taking part in helping find speakers and attendees for multiple different Tech communities and getting to see the insides of some of Australia’s and the world’s best tech houses. Sydney had a lot more of a focus on recruiters, both internal and external recruiters would attend, sporting their branded T-Shirts or wearing theirs suits and would be there to meet candidates or try to develop business off the back of whoever was speaking. (I can’t remember who it was and fair play to them, but one particular recruiter stood up at a meet-up at Atlassian, and actually tried to develop business to the panel of internal recruiters in front of the whole crowd!!). 

Around a year ago, I moved to Melbourne, into a completely different market from the previous two I had worked, insofar as where “relationships” truly rule. Here, most recruiters go about building relationships with clients and candidates through delivery, after all that is the prime reason recruiters are used isn’t it? To access a candidate that the client doesn’t have the outreach or time to access, and for a candidate you listen to a recruiter to hear about the job you haven’t seen advertised. I decided to take a different approach, encouraged and backed by my company, and more importantly, my Director, I was encouraged to pursue and immerse myself in many meet-ups Melbourne throws each evening. I can safely say even to this day a year on, if I look at meetup.com there are at least 2 meet-ups a week that are relevant to go to for myself, and I can safely say that from all the meet-ups I have been to over nearly the past 12 months I have developed both candidate and client relationships which will last me my time here in Australia!

I appreciate that, given COVID, and post-COVID, the meet-up scene will change (ie mixture of physical and online), however I trust these tips will be valuable, especially if it’s a physical meet-up:

Tip 1:

When attending a meet-up, I find its always easier to message to go with someone, ideally a candidate who you’ve built up a bit of a relationship with over time, just to make sure you don’t stick out like a sore thumb and it reduces any nervousness or awkwardness when there. It’s a great way to be introduced to their work colleagues or friends and get to know people. In my opinion, trust is one of the key issues within our industry and I think there is no better way to build trust than face to face, also for a recruiter, this is a great way to meet people within the market at their convenience, and without a phone call from a somebody they’ve never spoken to before. You can talk about work, life outside work and who knows, you may even generate a friendship out of it, or at least be their recruiter of choice should they need help in any aspect of their work. 

Tip 2: 

Exchange knowledge around the industry, ask them what tech trends are currently being pursued in their company, exchange knowledge about what other companies are doing, host your own meet-up, stand up at the end of a meet-up… etc. Make sure you always introduce yourself as a recruiter, let anyone come to you on their own accord, and be an open book. Create trust in the recruitment process / industry, and that is to advance the talent pool, and lift standards across the industry! Knowledge is power in our industry, and the bigger your profile, the more you can build on a person or company to assist them in finding their best opportunity, or the client, the best talent. Always follow up with these people - be it a coffee, over Linkedin or on the phone. 

Tip 3:

Honesty and transparency is key. Be honest about who you are, why you’re there and what you want. When I speak to people at meet-ups, I am there for 2 things (or maybe three depending on what food and beverages are on offer!). I am there to firstly and foremost network and build relationships, and secondly to learn about the technology industry I work in. I will never be a Technologist, nor is that what I am trying to become, but if I can get a better view of what technology is used for, where and how it used, then that enables me to keep engaged with candidates and secondly keeps me interested in the every changing market I am interested in. Most importantly however, it provides me a vehicle to add genuine value to all client discussions. Clients want to speak to recruitment consultants; not recruiters.

Tip 4:

Throw your own meet-up! This is something I was and still am looking to build towards in 2020, esp when restrictions are lifted, and everyone is back at work (at least in the office)! Having organised, and help organise, at least a dozen meet-ups in my time as a recruiter - this is the pinnacle. Give back to the community, learn new things, and build networks based on trust. Demonstrate that you really do care about the process / industry / your clients and candidates… after all, Melbourne is the world’s most liveable city, given the focus on culture and relationships. 

It's a great time to think outside the box and put these thoughts into practice. 
 
Please feel free to comment on any additional tips, or advice, you may have, or how you see the nature of meet-ups evolving post-COVID 2.0.

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