How to hire an evangelist

So after reading my last post you want to hire an evangelist, where do you find one?

  1. Ask people. Think who made an impression on you, then ask them who they would pick. Use your network and those who you trust.
  2. If you do need to advertise, then make the job interesting. Don’t just look in the usual places. Put some adverts in unusual places. Be creative in where you look. Most importantly, be honest about what you want to achieve. If this is truly interesting, people will soon find you.
  3. Take your time and find the right person. Don’t jump to the first candidate you find. Respond quickly, be honest, but don’t rush.
  4. Don’t look for an expert on your products or your company. Look for someone with something interesting to say who cares about your company enough to understand it.
  5. Look for someone who has answers and ideas, someone who can solve problems and complex issues. They don’t need to know all the answers, but they do need to be curious and inquisitive.

And how do you know they are the right person?

  1. You don’t. You won’t know until after they have started, so be prepared to be wrong about the person.
  2. If the candidate is not animated, passionate about their subject and infectious in their enthusiasm, find someone else.
  3. Ask interesting and diverse questions about a range of topics and subjects. Challenge them, push them to defend contentious points. And I mean ask diverse questions, about anything. You want to understand how they think, what they know, how they respond.
  4. Give them real challenges in the interview and decision making process. Make it real. Candidates will shine or flunk under this environment. The best candidates will love it.
  5. If they offend you, don’t hire them. You should be able to disagree and still like them. If you dislike them, so will others. Avoid.

Once you have picked them. Tips for success.

  1. Be patient. It takes time to develop this role and understand the fit. It can take years because you need to build trust and this takes time.
  2. Define the boundaries and be clear about what you want to happen, but not how. If they break these, lose them.
  3. Avoid all sales targets. This undermines the credibility of the role. In fact setting any targets is very challenging. If they do their job well, you may not even realise it. Look for evidence, actions and moving of perceptions. Hard to measure, difficult to judge. Accept this.
  4. Give them some budget and push them to be creative in driving impact from this. Don’t give too much!
  5. Hold your nerve. They will make mistakes, cause some PR challenges. Support them through this as they learn.

Final tip: The bolder the challenge, the bigger the fun. Don’t constrain thinking or ambition. Think big and miss rather than think small and achieve.


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