Job openings today are frequently hyperspecialized, making it even harder to identify and hire qualified talent. Your network – and your colleagues’ networks – can be one of the best sources for applicants. For candidates who are experts in a certain area, professional networking is especially important. Finding a niche job opportunity can be tough if you’re still searching the classified ads à la 1999.

If you’re a recruiter, you need to know the basics of how to recruit. First, connect with all of your hiring managers on social media. That gives you access to 2nd- and 3rd-level connections who may have the skills you’re searching for. A professional networking profile on LinkedIn isn’t an option for recruiters and hiring managers; it’s a must have. Expand your reach every day. Encourage hiring managers to use these platforms to share best practices, ask for advice, and get ideas.

Do you utilize professional networking to advertise a job opening? One survey found that 14.7% of talent mangers see Facebook and LinkedIn as the most effective channels of communication for recruitment. If even one of your connections shares a job opening with his or her network, you’ve increased your reach exponentially. As an added bonus, these network audiences are likely more targeted, since they are often colleagues or professionals working in a similar industry. This is a great way to identify qualified passive candidates as well. An applicant tracking system can simplify professional networking by posting open positions to your social media sites. The job is typically posted as a status update, giving you access to thousands of candidates simultaneously.

Professional Networking Beyond LinkedIn

Don’t limit your efforts to social media. If you have the resources, reach out to your connections. Cold calling doesn’t have to be painful. If you’ve never done it – or thought you’d never have to do it – now’s the time to start. It’s a lot easier than you think and can be met with great success. Write yourself a 30-second elevator speech, practice on some coworkers, and start calling passive candidates. The script is helpful to make sure you are saying the right things and asking the right questions.

The upcoming generation of applicants grew up in the age of social media and technology. Professional networking is standard procedure for them. Fluid and versatile knowledge in every kind of social and professional networking is a necessity for all recruiters and hiring managers. Stay on top of your social networks, post regular updates, and reach out! Remember, one good turn deserves another. Even if you don’t see an immediate benefit, you should be eager to help a stranger out. You never know when that person might become a valuable connection.