If you are responsible for recruiting, you need a plan. Think about creating this plan in terms of four kinds of “Close Encounters”:

#1: Introduction

The first meeting is critical. It sets the stage for the relationship going forward.

Often you are in control of setting the time and place of the introduction. But at times you will find yourself being introduced to a recruit in an unexpected moment, with little time to prepare. Either way, you must be ready to give a short but effective explanation of who you are, what you do, and why you are recruiting.

Then quickly turn the focus to them.

Take mental or manual notes about what the other person says. Find a connection. If your first impression of them is good, schedule the next time you will talk. If their first impression of you is good, chances are good that they will agree to another conversation.

#2: Relationship

This phase can be long or short. The key is that you add value. Ask a lot of questions, practice active listening, and take great notes. Follow up to each conversation with a personal note that shows you heard what they had to say. If they expressed a need or challenge, look for resources you can share with them that may be helpful.

Always try to end each meeting by scheduling the next time to connect.

You will know when the time is right to invite them on board…or when to transition out of the relationship.

#3: On-Boarding

If you make the invitation to join the team, and they accept, you will enter the On-Boarding Phase. You may not traditionally consider this to be part of recruiting, but it most definitely is!

During this phase, the person being recruited will experience the official working relationship with you for the first time. It’s almost like a second first impression. This is the launching pad for a long and profitable partnership for both of you.

Be prepared! Make sure everything is ready for them to make a seamless transition into their role within the team. Consider this: other people you are recruiting may ask this person about the ease (or pain) of the transition. Would their experience help you, or hurt you?

#4: Re-Recruiting

Many leaders never think about this phase, but it can mean the difference between being a “good” leader or a “great” leader.

It’s as important as it is simple. If you want to keep people on board, you need to show them the same respect and add value to their lives as you did during the relationship phase.

Remember, if they are truly worth keeping, they will probably have “close encounters” with other leaders on a regular basis. Never stop recruiting them!