Other Voices: Turn Your Supply Chain Organization into Talent Scouts

Many organizations undervalue the importance of joining Supply Chain associations.

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Editors note: This is the sixth of ten columns by Rodney Apple on recruiting. As always, you can feel free to email me with your thoughts at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).  Bob Trebilcock, editorial director, Supply Chain Management Review.

Looking to make the most of out of your association dues? Many organizations undervalue the importance of joining Supply Chain associations. Supply chain associations, such as APICS or CSCMP, can be a goldmine for finding supply chain talent, building brand awareness, and serving as a continuous educational source for your employees.

To use associations and events to your advantage, consider using these simple techniques:

Before the Event:

Pay Supply Chain Association Fees and Conference Expenses for Employees
You should consider paying supply chain association membership dues for your employees and encourage them to participate in local chapter meetings as well as national and global conferences. The education benefits alone are worth the investment for your employees, but if they can produce referrals for your supply chain openings, you’ll generate a much stronger return on your investment.

Create an Incentive Program
A great way to ensure involvement is through incentives for participating. Perhaps create an incentive that offers an award for the most referrals generated, such as an extra day off or cash award. This can drive a higher percentage of involvement.

Develop Talent Scout Training Curriculum
When it comes to sending a team to association events, it’s critical that you train them on how to proactively network and seek potential candidates to consider for current and future openings in your supply chain organization. Develop a Talent Scout training curriculum that includes the following:
● Networking Best Practices - tips on how to “work a room”, establish a rapport, etc.
● Conversation Starters - list of icebreakers to help initiate conversations
● Elevator Speech Preparation - tips for developing a 30-second elevator pitch
● Communication Scripts - ensures all associates are using consistent messaging at each event when it comes to explaining the company, job opportunities, supply chain organization, career advancement opportunities, training & development opportunities, company culture, how to handle questions around compensation, etc.

Establish Talent Scouting Goals
The last thing you want to do is to send members of your supply chain team to a conference or networking event without conducting any research or preparation prior to the event aka “winging it”. Be sure to enter any event with a goal for what you would like to achieve. This could be building your brand, generating a certain amount of new contacts, etc. In addition, be sure to have a strong understanding of current or potential openings within the organization so you have a better idea of the types of people to connect with at the event.

Connect with Potential Candidates
If possible, put together a list of individuals you are interested in having your team connect with. Be sure to have reviewed the event agenda, see who’s signed up (if possible), or review social media/ networking platforms (such as Twitter hashtags, Facebook Events or LinkedIn tags) to see who has mentioned they are attending the event.

If it makes sense, have your employees reach out and see if you can schedule time to meet with any of the individuals who are highly placeable at the upcoming event. A great introduction ice breaker is “I see you’re signed up to attend X and I’d love to connect with you there ”.

During the Event

Focus on Meeting New Acquaintances
It can be easy at networking events to talk with and socialize outside of the event with the people you know, but try to encourage employees to put themselves out there. This includes getting out from behind the booth, as typically you’ll have better luck connecting with people in the isles.

Take Notes on Business Cards
Be sure to encourage your employees to grab a business card from each person they connect with, and jot down notes about the conversation or individual. This way, they can keep better track of who they met, what they talked about, and what specifically that new connection could bring to your organization.

Post Event

Conduct a Debrief
Have all employees connect to review business cards and LinkedIn profiles of each prospect they met. Be sure to invite the supply chain recruiter and key hiring managers to help develop follow up action plans to ensure the right person reaches out to discuss employment opportunities. .

Immediately Follow Up
After debriefing, have your employees be sure to connect and follow up (with a note) with anyone they connected with who may be a fit within your organization. with a note, and of course, add them to your network. When you add someone to your network, send a brief personalized note of how you met. LinkedIn has a great function for keeping notes on how you met and allows you to assign a tag and even set reminders.

Network After the Event With Potential Hires
Even if you don’t have any job openings to consider these prospects for today, it’s a good idea to invite them out for coffee, lunch or dinner for relationship building purposes. When a role does open up in the future, you will have strong pipeline of candidates to reach out to.

In organizations with multiple manufacturing and/or distribution facilities, using this association scouting tactic can prove to be very powerful, especially if you have employees participating from corporate and each operation within your supply chain footprint.

Rodney L. Apple is the managing partner of SCM Talent Group, a supply chain recruiting agency. He can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

About the Author

Bob Trebilcock
Bob Trebilcock, editorial director, has covered materials handling, technology, logistics and supply chain topics for nearly 30 years. In addition to Supply Chain Management Review, he is also Executive Editor of Modern Materials Handling. A graduate of Bowling Green State University, Trebilcock lives in Keene, NH. He can be reached at 603-357-0484.

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