If a potential candidate doesn’t get the gig, or a co-op placement comes to a close, this often signals the end of that person’s relationship with the company – but it doesn’t have to be this way!

In fact according to our 2016 TalentEgg Student Judging Panel Survey, many students and grads want to stay connected with an employer for a variety of reasons, including mentorship and future job opportunities. Of course, it would be nearly impossible to keep in touch with every intern or applicant that crosses your path, but there is an easy fix: creating a talent community.

What is a talent community? According to The Undercover Recruiter, it is “a group of candidates that a company is focused on building a relationship with.” Often created using social media, these communities focus on creating a “two-way dialogue” between the company and its talent pool.

And the benefits are numerous; not only does it allow you easy access to qualified candidates, it’s also an incredible learning opportunity for applicants. While many big companies have been doing this for awhile, organizations of all sizes can reap the rewards of a thriving talent community.

Here’s how!

Step 1: Find the right platform

You want to make it as easy as possible for your talent to connect with you, so social media is a perfect tool for this. Consider using a closed Facebook and LinkedIn group to connect with your community. Depending on the size of your company, you might want to create different subgroups for different types of roles so you can better target your information.

Additionally, you could also use good ol’ email for your talent community. While not the best choice for engagement (more on that later), the bonus of this choice is that your newsletter signup form is a simple and effective way to collect and categorize candidate information. If your company uses a CRM, all you have to do is search the type of role they’re interested in and you have a variety of candidates right at your fingertips.

Step 2: Engage, Engage, Engage

While the ultimate purpose of a talent community is to source potential hires, the best way to ensure your community members actually want to work with you is through engagement. You want to build a relationship with them so that regardless of whether they get a role with you, they still believe in your brand enough to advocate for it and refer other candidates.

Remember, the purpose of a talent community is to create a two-way dialogue between yourself and your candidates. Provide value by sharing relevant content (industry news, company highlights, and of course, new job alerts) but try not to be too promotional. Encourage discussion by asking open-ended questions or at the very least, post a poll to garner simple feedback.

Tip: Hosting an Office Hours event is a great way to engage talent in real time. For more info, head to our website.

Step 3: Remember to review

You don’t want your talent community to turn into the recruitment version of a slush pile. Periodically review the people in the talent community group to see if any of them would be a good fit for your latest positions. When you find a potential match, send the job to the person and suggest that they apply. Your candidates will appreciate that you took the time to reach out to them, and you’ll likely get much better applications in return.

It’s really that easy! Create a group, get them talking, and don’t forget to check in every once in awhile to see if anybody is qualified for your latest opening.

Discussion: What do you do to engage your talent community?