3 Questions to Help Build a Better Employer Network

Read our earlier post – My Point of Vue: A Personal Look at Workforce Development with Danny Patterson – for a look at the 1980s version of network building and what it means for today.


A typical Workforce Board interacts with 5% of local businesses. Expand your network in a strategic way by identifying new, potential partners that strengthen your Board’s connection to the community.


Moving Beyond the Yellow Pages

At Workforce Development Boards and OneStop Career Centers, the number of job seekers and businesses that need your help has grown, but has the pool of businesses you regularly work with also grown to meet the demand?

The good news is that we’ve moved beyond using rolodexes and the yellow pages to find our next strategic partner. Today’s robust data and research tools give us a more complete picture of our local business communities and can help us identify and connect with a higher number of healthy, growing companies.

Ask yourself these questions to start building a broad business network:


1 Who is in my current network?

Get a deeper understanding of the businesses you regularly work with. Knowing the strengths (and weaknesses) of your core employer network is the key to maintaining strong partnerships, collaborative advisory groups, and effective community connections.

Consider these characteristics:

      • Financially health and stability – is this business securely positioned for a long-term partnership?
      • Industry leadership – what competitive advantages do they bring to the table?
      • Corporate family tree – how connected is the company leadership to the local community?
      • Growth potential – are they ready to invest in hiring and training your workforce?


2 Who should be in my network?

A typical Workforce Board interacts with 5% of local businesses. To expand your network in a strategic way, take a birds-eye view of the remaining 95% and then narrow your focus to identify new, potential partners that strengthen your Board’s connection to the community.

Some categories to investigate:

      • Up and coming industries – building early connections in future high-growth sectors will help you to plan for future labor needs and establish training and hiring programs that beat the curve.
      • Micro and small businesses – establishing ties with this often-overlooked group of businesses supports a key source of employment across all industries.
      • Under-represented groups – giving a voice to minority-, women-, and veteran-owned businesses will provide your Board with a well-rounded perspective on issues that may be flying under your radar.


3 How will I find them?

Your outreach will only be as good as your data. Invest in data resources that give you a complete picture of your local business community. Look for employer, industry and workforce data that is:

      • Predictive – financial scores and forward-looking indicators can help you spot industry-wide trends and assess individual business strength.
      • Comprehensive – along with high-level trend data for analysis, contact details for businesses large and small are critical for successful outreach.
      • Current – up-to-date information means your Board can be agile and responsive to industry and economic changes.


Building a business network that grows along with the needs of your community is hard – but necessary – work that supports both employers and workers. Take the time today to strategically invest in a stronger network tomorrow.


“Business people shaking hands in agreement” by Rawpixel Ltd is licensed under CC BY 2.0