Generating business is a necessary task for any recruiter. But sometimes the cold calling, emails, and advertising doesn’t cut it, and you’re left trying to figure out how to move forward. Rather than hammering away at unsuccessful approaches, here are three business development strategies that you may not have tried yet.

Content Marketing

Content marketing is the practice of developing online material that stimulates interest in a brand while not actively promoting that brand. Content produced in this way, like written blogs or eBooks, is intended to educate and offer insights or solutions to common industry problems. Content marketing is a great way to organically generate new business, but it takes diligence and patience for it to succeed, and it can easily fail if your strategy is undefined. But if you genuinely provide helpful information to potential customers, then they will see you as trustworthy and an authority in your field, and although you’re not actively promoting your brand, you are passively placing yourself in their minds.

  • Blogs - Building a blog is no easy task. Before you can even begin writing, you must pinpoint who it is you’re writing for. Start by taking stock of your ideal customers. Make a concerted effort to understand the problems they commonly face. Call old customers and interview them, or browse online forums to see what issues industry professionals are discussing. Take what you’ve absorbed and develop a content strategy, a way to organize and plan your content. For example, you might find that older professionals in your industry struggle communicating with the younger workforce. Using your expertise, you can write about the solution to the generational communication gap and title it, “How to Communicate with a Younger Workforce.” Write a list of article ideas to act as a backlog so you always have another article to write. Then, start writing! It’s important that you present yourself as a professional and educated, so your articles must be well-written and well-researched. But how much should you post? According to Hubspot, companies that published 16+ blog posts per month got almost 3.5 times more traffic than companies that published between 0 - 4 monthly posts. Essentially, the more articles you publish, the better.

  • SEO - SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. In simple terms, SEO is the way search engines categorize and rank web content, like your website or blog. When we search for something through Google, Google scours the web for content associated with the keywords within the search and ranks them with the most pertinent content at the top of the search results. This is exceedingly important for content marketing because SEO dictates what gets read and what doesn't. But how does it work? Truth is, there is no true formula to perfecting SEO rankings, as the algorithm is in constant flux, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t make some tactful decisions to improve your SEO. Take the time to find which keywords you want to rank for, and then fill your content with those keywords. Also, linking to other articles within your post will improve your ranking. The algorithm will recognize a link from a trustworthy site and will in turn deem your post credible. SEO is a huge beast to tackle, this article takes a more in depth look at the steps it takes to improve your online rankings.

  • Ebooks - Ebooks are downloadable online books. As you follow your content marketing strategy by writing blog posts, you’ll begin to develop a library of short pieces. With enough pieces, you can repurpose them for ebooks. Ebooks should have a theme or overall problem that they address. For this reason, you should keep ebooks in mind when developing your content strategy. To use the example above, you might use “How to Communicate with a Younger Workforce” in conjunction with other blog pieces about effective communication. Therefore, you should plan to write other pieces about communication, perhaps between employer and candidates, employer and recruiters, or HR and hiring managers. When those individual blog posts are organized into one document, you will have created an ebook that acts as an authoritative stance on the best ways an employer should communicate in different situations. Furthermore, you can use outbound sales to create what’s called gated content. Gated content makes it so the reader cannot view the content without first providing their contact information, letting you collect leads. Those leads are extremely valuable because if someone is reading your ebook, chances are they’re trying to solve problems—and that’s where your expertise can shine.

Thought Leadership

Thought leaders are trend-setters and authorities in their field, but becoming one isn’t an easy task. Here’s a list of recruiting thought leaders who have developed a name for themselves through some combination of social media, teaching, and public speaking appearances. Some of these people have well over 40,000 followers, and while that is incredible, you shouldn’t feel overwhelmed. Developing a following will help with business development, even if you don’t have thousands of followers.

  • Social Media - All thought leaders have an active social media presence. Even if you’re already on the popular sites like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, you can still make a few changes to improve your visibility. First, never self-promote; doing so will only discredit you because you may come off as disingenuous. Instead, focus on delivering pertinent and helpful information to your followers. Post articles for clients, or provide job seeking guides for potential candidates. Consistent posts are key to a strong following; people should expect to hear from you. Finally, interact with other thought leaders to generate buzz. Tweet at them, comment on their Facebook, ask questions, and respond. Not only will your social media activity be more interesting to follow, but you might snag some of their followers in the meantime.

  • Speak at Conferences - Public speaking at industry meetups is another way to demonstrate that you are an authority in your field, but it can be difficult to get a speaking position without being an established thought leader first. However, you can still find the microphone with a solid pitch and persistence. First, choose which conferences you think you’d be able to speak at. Start small, try looking for industry meetups in your area. Ask the meetup organizers for some of their time, and send them a prepared outline of your speech or offer to sponsor the event in exchange for the pedestal. Be sure to film your speech for posting to social media in the future. The more public events you speak at, the more professional you’ll appear and the more networking you’ll achieve.

  • Teach - Thought leaders share their expertise with the world, and one of the best ways to do that is to create an online course. Udemy is an online catalogue of classes where you can share your expertise with others. A lot of thought and careful planning goes into creating a course, but the most important thing is that you are specific about the title of your course and the learning objectives. Keep your lessons short and digestible and it will be easier to follow. If your course is successful, you’ll see your network grow. Start by offering your course for free to attract up viewers. Once your viewership grows, you can apply a price to the course, letting you make you money and generate business at the same time.

Be Proactive with Sales Collateral

With so many recruiters in your field, you’ll have to make strides to differentiate yourself. Too often, recruiters get complacent and wait on dwindling referrals and repeat business. However, by being more proactive, you can get ahead of the competition and stand out as a recruiter with results and passion.

  • Ask for Referrals - Referrals are one of the most effective ways to get business. A potential client is four times more likely to use your services if they were referred by a friend. So why wait passively? One way you can increase referrals is by implementing a referral program. An effective referral program incentivizes past clients and candidates to take part with discounts or gifts. The other option is to ask for referrals directly. Many salespeople recommend doing this at the point of sale, and some recommend doing so after the project is through and you've proven your services. Either way, every successful recruiter relies on referrals. It's as easy as asking, "Do you know of anyone else who might be struggling with the same sorts of hiring problems?" Be proactive, ask for referrals, and you might see a sharp increase in your client-base.

  • Case Studies - Case studies are a tangible way to prove your effectiveness. A case study is an in-depth look at how you worked with and solved a client’s challenges. They are often used as sales collateral for potential clients in need of quantifiable results. A good case study tells the story of success while also pointing to numbers that confirm your effectiveness as a recruiter. Unfortunately, case studies require former clients to devote a decent chunk of time for an interview. Consider making a wrap-up interview a part of your process, or incentivize them with a discount on your services in exchange for a case study. You’ll more than make up for the lost revenue with new business in the future.

Generating new clients can take its toll on a recruiter, especially when previous successful development sources dry up. But taking the time to try different strategies can yield business you didn’t think was available. So go out on a limb and get out of your comfort zone—you might be surprised at the results.