Networking is the process or act of exchanging information with others for a purely professional reason. If done well, networking should be mutually beneficial and allow for growth for all parties involved. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, 85% of jobs are filled by networking.
While supremely useful, networking can also be overwhelming, especially because there are many ways to go about it. Additionally, when it comes to hiring, pool and spa business owners are typically in a time crunch: You need new employees, and you need them as soon as possible to keep projects on track and customers happy.
There are plenty of professional networking platforms, alumni groups, trade associations and industry events of which to take advantage, but in the pool and spa industry, where is the best place to start and to spend your time?
Here are six steps for pool and spa pros to approach networking and strengthen hiring strategies.
1. Build a profile of your ideal candidate.
Get started by building a profile of what your ideal candidate looks like based on skills and experience. Make each profile specific to the role, and match them to the job description. It's also important to meet your candidates where they are: Find out which job boards are most popular, how your current employees may have heard about your company and their role, and what candidates are looking for in their next role (i.e. salary ranges, PTO, work-life balance, etc.).
2. Identify top networking channels for the pool and spa industry.
Next, you need to identify events, platforms or networks that are popular in the pool and spa industry and that are likely to have a high return on investment. Some industries heavily rely on popular platforms like LinkedIn or other job boards, while others—including this industry—lean primarily on networking events and word of mouth. One such event is the International Pool | Spa | Patio Expo™, co-located with Deck Expo, to be held Nov. 12–17, 2022, in Las Vegas.
It is also worth considering offering open interviews or shadowing opportunities for those who apply for roles with your company. It can give the candidate a look at what day-to-day life may look like with your company, and it can give you a sense of the candidate's fit with your current staff.
3. Spruce up your online presence.
As you begin to actively network to hire, you need to prepare for questions candidates will ask and be ready to give them the information they need to learn about your company. It's important to have a website, social media presence and an active profile on job boards. This allows candidates to research and gain answers to initial questions they may have.
4. Be ready and able to communicate.
Once you've created strong networking connections, you need to be able to maintain the flow of communication with your contacts and potential candidates. Being available and responsive builds trust and lets candidates know where they stand. If you know ahead of time that there are periods you will not be able to respond in a timely manner—such as when you're on an active job site or have meetings with other clients—plan ahead; cater your automatic email responses or voicemail messages to indicate when you're unavailable and when they can expect you to return their message.
5. Leverage existing relationships.
When struggling with staffing issues and a lack of time available for networking, as so many are in the construction industries today, make the most of your existing professional relationships.
Reach out to existing employees for referrals, or get in touch with former employees who left in good standing. Offer an incentive for team members who are able to help you find new hires to encourage similar referrals in the future.
You can also meet with current staff members to discuss what they liked (or didn't) about their hiring process, and take this into account when hiring new employees.
6. Keep up-to-date records.
Retaining a list of potential candidates for future roles sets you up for success when future job openings arise. Having several names that you have already vetted and can immediately reach out to when a position becomes available builds better connections and gives you a leg up on recruiting.