Grand Rapids – On the Road to Success

Opening an office in a new market has been adventure. Now five months into the process with a few freelance roles under my belt and a couple direct hires – I would love to share the methods I have been utilizing to become a successful recruiter, and grow our brand in this new market!

1. Networking – it is all about networking, people! Grand Rapids is very unique in the way that it is all about “who you know”, well I want to know EVERYONE!

  • Meet EVERYONE – It is crucial to build relationships and truly put yourself out there. Networking has been a huge chunk of how I have met clients and candidates alike. There are tons of different ways to network – virtually on social media, monthly or weekly meet-up groups, formal and more casual happy-hour events, alumni events, and events created specifically for creatives. I have attended them all – even a web development group where I felt completely foreign when they were talking “shop”, but found some awesome talent that has spread the word about us!

2. Utilize ALL relationships for growth – it doesn’t matter if I knew this person five years ago from college or met them six weeks ago in the coffee shop, I have noticed that it is an absolute must to connect with everyone I can (and I’m not shy about it either)! This community is so eager to help others. They love spreading the word about openings to their friends, colleagues, and students! I have had a blast meeting new people and appreciate all their support as we continue to grow.

3. Consistent Customer Service

  • Quick response time – One of the most successful practices I utilize is quick and consistent response times to both clients and candidates. The appreciative feedback I receive from them reminds me how important it is each time. Even if I respond letting them know I will reply later, they feel much more comfortable.
  • Willingness to go above and beyond – With the partnerships I have made so far – no questions asked, I go above and beyond to make any connection, answer any question, and support them through the interview or hiring process. With the candidates, I do my best to support them by assisting with resume edits or supplying them with ways they could build upon a certain skillset. I also invite my candidates to attend networking events with me, and they love it!
  • Strong and friendly communication – Communication is key in this market! Our clients like to move at their own pace; some really fast and others like turtles. I connect with the candidates often to keep them engaged and their spirits up reassuring them that the position is still moving forward or has taken a pause. Throughout the process, I found that most of my candidates are AWESOME! So, I prefer to check in with them to see how they are doing, or if they have done anything exciting lately, too! Consistent client check-ins have proven to be successful as I have snagged a few recent freelance roles from simply saying ‘hi there! Hope you’re doing well…’.  KEEP EVERYONE ON THE SAME PAGE.

4. Source, Interview, Source, Source, Interview! This day to day here for a consultant may look a bit different because I spend A LOT of time sourcing, and A LOT of time interviewing.

  • My goal has been to interview 10 or more candidates a week. I enjoy meeting the candidates in person because they are able to put a face to a name, feel us out, and I instantly have an idea of where I could see them being placed in the future.
  • I really enjoy sourcing, and playing with the multiple ways you can find talent! Of course LinkedIn Recruiter is my best friend, but I find a lot of great talent through my networking group websites! Grand Rapids can feel quite small at times, and it can be a challenge to find multiple candidates for a specific niche, so I pull from other markets like Kalamazoo or Detroit. Adding those areas into my search and sourcing process actually landed me an amazing candidate that made the physical move for a full-time position in Grand Rapids!!

Overall, these past five months have been fantastic! Things are really starting to get moving on the client front with the help of our new business development consultant, Colin. If we continue to provide top of the line customer service and present top talent, we will definitely reach our goals, and perhaps surpass them!

– from the desk of smartdept. inc. Creative Consultant, Hannah Morgan



Chicago November Networking Events

The holiday season is ramping up, and so is the professional networking events calendar! Check out what’s happening this month in Chicago and get out there!

Leadership Circle Program, “Disruptive Thinking: Preparing for Unpredictable Futures”
11.10.14 / 7:15 am / Chicago

At this program hosted by the Executives’ Club of Chicago, Anders Sorman-Nilsson, an innovation strategist and the founder and creative director of Thinque, discusses how to win the digital minds and analog hearts of tomorrow’s customer.

Innovation through Human-Centered Design Workshop
11.11.14 / 9:00 am / Chicago

Product managers, designers, researchers, user experience professionals, marketers, innovators and others can attend this two-day workshop that uses lectures and workshops to introduce participants to the ins and outs of human-centered design. Attendees also learn about how an innovative company operates, improving a company’s design process and more.

Momentum 2014
11.12.14 / 12:30 pm / Chicago

Momentum 2014 brings together technology and marketing to focus on one of the topics that is mission critical for businesses today and tomorrow: Customer Engagement and Big Data: Closing the Gap. This must-attend marketing technology event brings together senior marketing leaders to focus on creating a strategic, unifying vision for customer engagement and experience management within their organizations. This ½ day conference will balance learning the critical strategies from best-in-class marketers, with actionable takeaways and implementation tools, no matter your industry.

Network After Work Chicago at SHAY
11.12.14 / 6:00 pm / Chicago

Join Network After Work on Wednesday November 12th at SHAY (222 W Ontario St) from 6-9pm. Network After Work is comprised of nearly one million like-minded professionals from around the country. Network with attendees from all industries and career levels interested in expanding their professional network and creating new business opportunities. Events take place monthly which allows guests a chance to foster new professional connections in a relaxed atmosphere conducive to business and social networking.

Social Media Masters Summit
11.12.14 / 9:00 am / Chicago

Those in the digital marketing sphere can hear from companies such as BuzzFeed, RedBox, Mike’s Hard Lemonade and Orbit Media at this summit. Topics covered include digital strategy, consumer marketing, content strategy and more.

Breaking into Chicago’s Startups: What it Takes to Find a Job in the Tech Ecosystem
11.12.14 / 6:00 pm / Chicago

At this event – the second in a three-part series – attendees can listen to a panel of hiring mangers, employees and Startup Institute alumni who discuss their success and what got them there.

Cheng, Dilts, Haasch and Reyes: ON Technology
11.13.14 / 6:00 pm / Chicago

Join us for ON Technology, a panel discussion of major topics at the intersection of technology and design—from the growth of the sharing economy, through the evolution of grassroots movements, to the rapid, digital-driven changes we’re seeing in the design industry. The conversation will be hosted by Morningstar and moderated by WBEZ’s Lauren Chooljian, with participation from some of Chicago’s leading design and technology thinkers in what promises to be a candid take on a range of topics. Afterwards, we’ll continue the discussion over drinks at State & Lake (the bar, not the intersection) down the street.

Shark Tank Social: Tech Talk Edition
11.14.14 / 7:00 pm / Chicago

Those who have an invention or an idea can head to this event, where they’ll learn how to position themselves as an author, public speaker, product marketer or brand strategist. In addition, attendees can learn about technology awareness, the integration of social media in digital marketing and the basics steps for how to start a business.

Strengthening Human Capital: Make The Investment
11.18.14 / 7:30 am / Chicago

At this educational session, attendees can learn the ins and outs of training as well as what a well-trained human capital is and why it can be the key to an organization’s success.

Chicago Design Week 2014

Attention Chicagoland designers! AIGA’s annual Chicago Design Week kicks off tomorrow and we can’t wait. Check out their website for a rundown of all the unique events planned.

Here are some highlights:

Thursday, June 12- This Is Chicago

To be clear, this is the 2014 Annual Meeting. But it’s also a massive poster show, inviting Chicago luminaries, up-and-comers and all-around interesting folks to come up with eye-opening visual answers to the question, “What does design in Chicago mean to you?”‘  Come around, grab some free drinks, eat some cool snacks, exchange pleasantries with a few hundred Chicago designer-types—and buy a raffle ticket (or 20) for a chance to win your favorite poster (or 20). Register now.

Friday, June 13th- Chicago Design Museum Opening

On June 13, 2014, the Chicago Design Museum sets down permanent roots in Block37 in the heart of the loop—capping off two summers of successful pop-up exhibitions featuring Marian Bantjes, Ed Fella, Debbie Millman and Wolfgang Weingart.  When the doors open at the new address, museumgoers will be greeted by Starts/Speculations: Graphic Design in Chicago Past and Future, an exhibit exploring the evolution of communication. RSVP now.

Chicago Design Weeks

4 Essentials for Reaching Out to Strangers on LinkedIn

Last week, I received an info interview request from a total stranger as a direct message on LinkedIn. And despite my very busy schedule, I decided to take his call. Over the weekend, I asked myself, “Why did I agree?”

Let’s take his e-mail apart and put it into 4 essential elements so you can use them in your own LinkedIn networking communications.

Read the full article here! (via

HOW TO: Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile

With more than 85 million members in more than 200 countries, LinkedIn is a professional social network worth using, understanding and optimizing.

After you’ve covered the basics of setting up your LinkedIn presence, features including recommendations, applications, LinkedIn Answers, and the Resume Builder can add value to your profile. Many of these highly useful features, though, are often overlooked or underused by newcomers.

We spoke with four LinkedIn aficionados to get their top advice on making the best use of these tools. Read on for their thoughts and let us know which tips you’d add for optimizing LinkedIn profiles in the comments below.

Read the full article here!