Meaningful relationships are foundational to success in recruitment. The challenge is that building a network and earning trust takes time. For many recruiters, it can take years to become established in their market niche.
What if there was a way to speed up this process and achieve faster results?
My special guest, Steven Li, has discovered a way to build relationships at scale by organizing meet-ups in his sector. Steven’s strategy has enabled him to progress from a rookie recruiter at Robert Half to the Top Biller in APAC within three years.
Hosting events isn’t a new concept, but Steven has really taken this strategy to the next level. In fact, Steven is renowned for his cybersecurity events in Tokyo and they’ve become so popular that he holds a lottery to determine who gets to attend.
In this episode, Steven shares his learnings and best practices on how to organize events that add value to his sector. He revealed his process for running successful meet-ups, the mistakes he’s made and insights gleaned along the way.
Steven is a Senior Division Director at Robert Half Japan and specializes in Cyber Security recruiting. In 2022, Steven was recognized as the top biller across APAC, as well as managing the number one perm team.
Episode Outline and Highlights
- [02:30] From financial services to recruiting – Steven shares his story.
- [09:00] Why “simple does not always mean easy” and how Steven turned things around after his initial struggles as a recruiter.
- [12:21] Fast-tracking his career to becoming a top biller in just three years.
- [21:06] Adding value – how Steven organizes events for the cybersecurity community.
- [32:14] Leveraging LinkedIn to make your meet-up a success.
- [40:13] Things to do (and not do) when hosting events.
- [47:01] Steven talks about leadership and innovation.
- [51:00] Making the transition from top producer to billing manager.
- [58:38] Having a mission that goes beyond you as an individual.
Building Relationships at Scale by Organizing Meet-Up Events
Steven is a Gen Y recruiter who believes in the value of working smart. In 2019, he quit his job in the Financial Markets and moved to Tokyo to become a recruiter. He thought it was going to be easy but when the pandemic came in 2020, his resilience was tested which drove him to work smarter.
Steven took inspiration from Greg Savage’s advice on branding and becoming a micro-celebrity in your marketplace. He connected this to the idea of building relationships at scale in recruitment, and that is when they started doing these meet-up events.
He shared his learnings on hosting events and how to make the most of them. Here are some takeaways that we covered:
- How he hosts invite-only events to build a safer community for cybersecurity experts.
- How they were able to hold these events in prestigious locations such as Google, Microsoft, and even the British Embassy.
- Learning from past mistakes, especially on the logistics.
- Things to watch out for – such as ensuring there’s no selling or pitching at the event.
How did this benefit Steven and Rober Half? He became the APAC top-biller in 2022, which was only his third year in recruitment. Plus, Steven’s strategy has now been adopted by other divisions. Robert Half Japan is now hosting community meetup events for Cyber Security, Data, Developers, Consulting, and Executive Search
Having a Clear Mission That Goes Beyond You
Steven has a “mission that goes beyond himself,” which is to build a stronger cybersecurity community in Japan, by giving people the platform to share the best ideas and thoughts. This is something that I also firmly believe: if you have a clear mission, that is bigger than you or your company goals but is one that everyone in your market can get behind, then people will go out of their way to help you.
Having this clarity on your “WHY” and purpose, and how you are able to connect it to how you will add value to your community is a vital key driver to success. Like so many of our guests, successful recruiters and recruitment business owners find ways to add value to their community. Hearing Steven’s story on how he is able to tie up his marketing with his mission can inspire a lot in our industry to do the same.
Developing Leadership Skills
Steven is still ‘young’ as a recruiter, but what I also admire about him is how he takes ownership of his development. Top billers don’t necessarily make good managers. Steven has fast-tracked his career because he’s taking responsibility for his own development, proactively seeking to refine his leadership skills through books, mentorship, and coaching.
This is true with tenured and seasoned recruitment business leaders that I know – they never stop learning and developing. Leadership is a lifelong journey, and there is always room for growth and improvement, regardless of experience.