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July 28th, 2016 / by Mike Cooney

The Free Agent Market – NBA Free Agency Can Help You Make The Next Great Hire

Now that the NBA free agency has nearly wrapped up and the big names are settled, it’s interesting to see how the strategies used in the NBA relate to strategies used when acquiring top talent for your business.

The most shocking outcome of the NBA free agency was no doubt Kevin Durant’s decision to sign with his home team’s fiercest competitor the Warriors.  Many teams were courting Durant. The highest-level executives flew to him to make their pitches. The Boston Celtics went farther by using existing top talent and even pulled in Tom Brady, quarterback for the New England Patriots to try and sway Durant. Many teams offered higher and higher salaries to Durant.

In the end the team that ultimately won Durant did so by presenting him with the best chance for joining championship level team, one that could become a dynasty – as some are already predicting. Perhaps, even more importantly, the Warriors focused on what was best for Durant as a player and highlighted the unique opportunity for growth that he would have with their organization. Sources say this was what ultimately tipped Durant.

Durant wasn’t the only free agent that was being courted. Actually several mid level players were wined and dined by competing teams trying to put their best case forward for why the free agents should sign with them.

While not as high stakes as the NBA, there are some key strategies the NBA put into play that can be useful when recruiting talent to your home team.

Using top talent to get top talent. The Warriors had their stars, past and present, reaching out to Durant. This achieves a few things in your business: The relationships start to build before a player even joins your organization, making it much harder for a candidate to say no, and helping their transition once they say yes. Additionally, the employees you tap to help in the process feel empowered and more invested in your company.

Selling opportunities to candidates. It doesn’t always come down to money. Durant’s deal with the Warriors didn’t mean a lot more money for him. It was about the possible titles. Knowing what’s motivating a candidate, and then showing them how your opportunity and company’s culture fits better with their goals can often get top talent to make a jump.

Put your culture on display. Durant was lured to a culture of sharing. He experienced first hand how the Warriors collaborated on the floor and shared the basketball. You should put your culture on display and be transparent about it. Help candidates see what it will be like from you because they will get impressions from other sources like Glassdoor.

Personal touches. Things like the President or CEO personally calling or emailing the candidate and expressing their desire that the candidate join their team, or even sending flowers to the candidate, go a long way toward making a really impactful impression.

Money is a factor. Money isn’t always everything but typically top talent can command top dollar. Are you willing to pay more for top talent?

Today is a different marketplace for candidates than it was three years ago. They are free agents with multiple opportunities in front of them and you just might need to pull a page out of the NBA playbook to land your talent.