Bringing a talent community to life isn’t a one-time task: it’s a long-term investment meant to establish relationships with passive candidates who have expressed an interest in getting involved with your company. Like tending to a garden, recruiters need to carefully cultivate their talent communities through personalized communication and highly relevant content.

Talent communities offer personalized, direct ways to nurture passive candidates, as well as opportunities to showcase and build your unique brand. By investing in your long-term recruitment strategy, recruiters and candidates alike will stay more engaged, aware, and ultimately ready for when the right role arrives.

What are some of the best ways to keep your talent community engaged? Follow these six steps:

1. Network one-on-one

Connecting through a talent community offers recruiters and candidates a chance to connect on a personal level. Utilize that connection by scheduling in-person, casual meetings with passive candidates throughout your talent community. Candidates are more likely to remember the recruiter who showed an interest over the course of their career journey, and recruiters appreciate being kept up-to-date on a candidate’s latest developments. One friendly chat over lunch can easily lead to one very engaged new employee — all for the price of a cup of coffee.

2. Build an employee referrals program

One of the fastest, cheapest ways to hire a new employee is through an employee referrals program. Referred employees not only onboard faster and stay longer — they help retain the employee who referred them in the first place. Incentivizing your current employees to refer their networks to your talent community can create a strong pipeline of passive candidates with strong references who may already have a glimpse into your company’s culture from a trusted source. Once a referred passive candidate becomes active, you’ve now got a warmer candidate for open, relevant positions. Plus, what employee doesn’t love idea of a $2,000 bonus for getting to work with a friend?

3. Personalize communication

Candidates who have joined your talent community have already taken the time to demonstrate that they’re interested in becoming members of your organization. Repay the favor by offering the members of your talent community highly personalized communication that leverages the information they’ve chosen to share. Stay in touch by sending updates tailored to their interests, including news about your company’s location or office culture, as well as information about potentially relevant positions.

4. Evolve your brand

Talent communities don’t exist to simply fill open positions: they offer a chance to highlight your brand’s mission, culture, and unique attributes. Over time, candidates can become more engaged with an organization that showcases things like community involvement or one-of-a-kind workspaces that align with their beliefs or interests. While building your recruitment brand will take a longer, more sustained effort than simply hiring for open roles, the long-term payoff will be a mutually beneficial group of recruiters and candidates invested in your company’s success.

5. Engage college students through graduation and beyond

Upon graduation, college students are eager to enter the workplace and start off on their new careers. Whether you’ve connected through a career fair or an internship, college students have the potential to be your company’s most valuable future asset. Keep students and recent graduates engaged by offering personalized content that helps navigate their job search — for instance, a broad picture illustrating the cost of living, local activities, and other benefits to the city your headquarters are based out of, as well as updates on your company’s latest and greatest achievements.

6. Create shareable online content

Social media offers endlessly unique possibilities to authentically highlight your company’s culture, industry, and news. Avoid falling into the routine of using your LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter accounts to simply post a steady stream of job openings; instead, share highly relevant content to all things related to your recruiter brand. By sharing job postings sporadically among other pieces of content, they’ll feel like newer, more urgent openings, helping stand out and boost interest.

Are you looking for more ways to engage with candidates? Read, Top 6 Benefits of Video Interviewing.