October 3, 2023

Event Planning. So Hot Right Now.


Episode Highlights

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Real talk: back in the 9-5 in office days, there’s nothing I wanted to do less than spending my evening (read: me time) at a networking event. I’m a recruiter. I just spent the entire day networking. 

Now? I miss people. (Well, sometimes anyway.) And it appears everyone feels the same way. 

Industry happy hours. Onsite hiring events. Internal team events. Coffee with an old contact. The vibe shifted. It sure feels like people are into it now.

Whether it’s hiring, sales or a bit of both, Jeff Smith and I discuss how event planning is suddenly a core competency in The 10 Minute Talent Rant, Episode 74 “Event Planning. So Hot Right Now.”

Episode Transcript

The 10 Minute Talent Rant is live. I’m James Hornick joined by Jeff Smith, and we are on the clock. The 10 Minute Talent Rant is our ongoing series where we break down things that are broken in the talent acquisition and hiring space, maybe even pitch a solution or two. Before we dig in, all of our content can be found on talentinsights.hirewell.com.

This week’s topic, episode 74, “Event Planning. So Hot Right Now.” Okay, 74 episodes. We finally slid in a Zoolander reference. Yeah, I feel like I-

I’m gonna bet we,

we probably have dropped one in there, like not even knowing it. I think that, it is pretty crazy how old that movie is, and I think it still gets,

then again, there’s probably some Gen Z’ers who are like, what, why is that even funny? They probably don’t get it. But anyways. 100%. So a little bit of a, I don’t want to say a detour. Well, this actually relates to hiring and everything else, but I think it has a lot to do with the workplace culture too. If I was going to describe the mood, in the market in general and anything tech related. Not just tech companies, but, it’s just generally low.

I think people are, people and companies, are surviving. SaaS has gotten killed. Recruiting firms have gotten killed. Internal town acquisition apartments have been decimated. The best thing I can say is, I think we bottomed out like, I think we’ve hit the bottom and things are getting, seem to be getting, better in the past month or two.

But, kind of pivoting the conversation, like sales is hard for everyone, especially like in that SaaS space. You might be in, like, logistics or manufacturing, like, I don’t know what you guys are talking about things are great. But anyone who’s kind of related tech, like companies aren’t hitting their numbers.

The sales reps aren’t hitting their numbers. I mean, if you look at your DMs in LinkedIn, you’re probably just getting spammed to death, from people. Just cause everyone’s like, go to motion, just send out more, send out more, doubling down on that. But in case you missed it, cause there are people talking about this a bit right now, which is why we want to kind of hit on a bit, especially it’s recruiting.

Like, events are killing it. People are having the most success, us included by far, with onsite in person events. Yeah. Let’s rewind all the way back. Everybody’s in the office. I mean, I felt this way. I know you were the same. I hated and hate events. I don’t know, maybe still a present tense thing. But back then the idea of commuting in, working a day, going through the entire emotional fatigue of that 9 hour experience and then going out to a happy hour, or some other networking event, that was just basically more work.

We both collectively said, like, we just didn’t really want to do it. And I don’t think we’re alone, like, in the idea that social batteries then, and even now are like- you just got really exhausted and depleted from all of that. Yeah. I think that the remote world is different.

Like I’ve started going to events for the first time in a long time, fairly recently, and the vibe is just different. Like, people are just happy, genuinely happy to get out of their house because they haven’t had any human contact all week and just talk to other people. It’s not the, I used to think it was just like a salesperson, just like pitching each other.

And I haven’t gotten that vibe, any of this stuff I’ve been to recently. And, it’s like, you get to actually just talk with people and kind of understand what they’re about. Maybe you’ve learned about their business or whatever, which pays off. But it’s definitely, the mood has changed, I think, universally around like in person events now that people aren’t glued to their nine to five at the desk all day, anyways. Yeah. No, it’s like the inverse of what was, I think before pre-pandemic, we talked so much about how we never had time for our personal lives. And now it’s like the opposite. It’s like, “Oh my God,” now we don’t talk at all about our professional lives.

All we do is talk about our personal lives, which as we’ve all found out, may be equally mundane. Look, this is all about satisfying the human urge to be communal. Like be at growth events, team events, hiring events, just general networking, the need to interact is real. If only it is to just get together and talk about how miserable we all are.

Here’s a couple of ideas. I’ll kind of prompt and you can kind of talk through it. But number one, let’s say you need to draw up some business, host an event. And we’re doing an HR happy hour, right, James? Yeah. Tomorrow, I think we’ve got 120 people coming to it, which is like bonkers to me. And like-


Yeah, 120 people that we know, that are just happy to come see us again, because it’s been so long since like a lot of people have gotten out. The happy hour is the Chicago staple from what I understand other parts of the country, like alcohol based events aren’t as-

Aren’t on the wane a little bit, but anything from walk and talks and yoga classes and morning coffee networking groups, and stuff like that, like, there’s a lot to it.

And I think that there’s a lot of people out there having success with it. And from a BD standpoint, it’s going to be pretty effective for a lot of places. Yeah.

Scenario two, maybe you need to hire fast. Maybe you need a high volume of candidates at a short amount of time for a variety of different roles. The 2nd strategy that we’ve implemented is doing an in person hiring event. I think that, if you’re an HR/TA, let me phrase it to you why this would make sense and why this is so great. Are you ever sick of hiring managers not getting back to you? Not like, making decisions when they’re supposed to, not doing debriefs, not giving you feedback, punting things down the line, you just can’t pin them down. An event fixes that. It’s amazing.

Time boxing their time. Having an actual itinerary, not of just when these interviews on a certain week are happening with all the different candidates, but actually when the debrief time is. And having it penciled in. This is when we’re deciding like what the offers are and getting those out the door.

There’s no wiggling out of it. It’s like the greatest thing ever. If you’re actually trying to make something happen, like on time, when you need it to actually happen, as opposed to this constant delayed of like time to hire going down, because knowing it pinned down. Like, I cannot say enough good things about having event based hiring. It’s amazing.

I totally agree. I’ve experienced it firsthand. You want to get everybody running in the same direction real quick, put them in the same room. That’s not rocket science. Yeah. Maybe you just need to get morale up. Like again, not rocket science. Get the team together for a movie, virtually or in person, do a team building exercise.

You need to correct course with a, you know, or get some good vibes with a client you’ve maybe run off track with, like you guys get it. Do coffee meetings, get in person, break bread. Look somebody in the eye and talk through a strategic solution, as it relates to the opportunity.

Alex, one of our partners on the tech team, he went to D.C. for a football game, and he went a day early and just, like, messaged, I don’t know, 15-20, tech executives. And just saying, “Hey, this is what I do, like, I’m going to be in an area I’d love to treat you for coffee or lunch.” Got two meetings out of it, with, like, CTO level people, like, never would have thought in a million years that would actually work.

But, and granted, this is recruiters, so people often are meeting with us because they want to actually meet with us about themselves, finding a new job, but it’s still the same thing. Like, all the time that people spend, like, spamming people like that, you know what I mean?

As opposed to just like offering to meet, no strings attached kind of thing and just seeing where the conversation goes. It actually works nowadays. Yep. Yep. It’s a differentiator. Look at the end of the day, we said it last rant, and we talked a little bit about remote work potentially making us more dumb/ dumber.

It’s fatiguing and we don’t have separation. There is this big blend of our two lives and it, to, to focus a little bit on severance for those who love the show, like James and I. I don’t think anybody wants to go to that extreme, but, there’s a reason why the show was made and it’s why it’s extremely topical right now, so.

Yeah. All right. We’ve got some takeaways. What’s number one? Hirewell takeaway, this is what we’re doing. We’re making event planning one of our core competencies. I think no matter where you’re located geographically, no matter what your segment is, there is an opportunity to localize community building for whatever group that you like, whatever you fit into, whether it’s HR people, whether it’s tech leaders, whether it’s Python developers, whether it’s demand gen marketers, just it’s pretty much greenfield.

If you wanted to build your own micro community of 10 people, of 20 people, or if you want to build something larger of hundreds of people, no matter what scale you want to work on. I guarantee you can be successful with it right now, because the interest is absolutely there. It just kind of comes down to, what your strategy is for either hiring or for BD or whatever.

But, I think it’s easier now than ever has been to kind of create something new to get people to come and actually participate and show up. Agree. You spend one hour doing a little bit of research to find these sorts of places, they exist. Past like the networking lens, attending these sorts of events, just, it just keeps your mind sharp. It can be refreshing a skill. Talking about your industry and how it’s changed from the pandemic, whatever.

Whatever the topic is, we learn communally. We’ve talked a lot about it in our industry, like the learning from osmosis and hearing other people recruit is- there’s no replacement for it. So, as Ron Burgundy says, it’s science. I’ll give you a third takeaway. What’s everyone bitch about the most when it comes to working on site nowadays? It’s going on site just to sit on zooms. And I think that’s in everyone’s head that’s like taking an onsite job right now, like what’s the point? I’m just going to sit in zoom meetings all day. But if you set the tone from the very beginning, when you’re trying to hire and you have some sort of like bespoke event where it’s, you’ve actually put some time and thought into it and made an itinerary and made it interesting and fun.

And like, if that’s actually, first of all, this needs to be part of what you want to do with your organization, but if you can actually set the tone from the hiring event up front. It’s just not another kind of place where it’s hybrid, but no one’s actually in the office, but you can make it an enjoyable interview experience with onsite interaction.

Like you set yourself apart from every other company who’s just talking about doing an office things or hybrid things because you’ve actually, like, the way you interview is the way you run the company, typically. Yeah. Too long, didn’t read; sell an experience. That’s the eat all of this. I mean, like to finish it off, everyone’s sick of being sold to.

I’m sick of zoom fatigue. I know everybody else is. But, at the bottom line is everybody still wants to get out of the house. As we record this over zoom. Hilarious. We are short on clock. That’s a wrap for this week. Thanks again for tuning the 10 Minute Talent Rant, part of the talent insights series, which is always available for replay on talentinsights.hirewell.com, as well as YouTube, Apple podcast, Google podcast, Spotify, and Amazon. Jeff, thanks again, as always. Everyone out there, we will see you soon.

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