Whether looking to add more women to a female-founded company or hoping to bring diversity and grow your talent network, you need to know what female employees are looking for in a career.

Aimee Woodall, president and founder of The Black Sheep Agency, a brand strategy company, is constantly building relationships with smart women, but not as a recruiting function.

"Life is infinitely more interesting when you're surrounded by smart people," Woodall said. "Once you have a lot of awesome, talented women in your company and in your social circles, it helps you bring in more awesome, talented women."

But how do you break into those female talent pools to start the cycle of finding, attracting, and hiring successful females? Here are three tips to get you started:

1. Offer benefits based on your culture.

Benefits are a crucial aspect of the recruiting game. However, this is especially important when you're trying to attract female employees who will fit in best with your culture.

Kiri Masters, founder and CEO of consumer branding company Bobsled Marketing, ensures her company culture shines through in the perks and benefits offered to employees.

"It's important to me, personally, that my company offers a robust maternity leave program," she said.

However, this doesn't simply mean offering time off for expecting mothers. Masters also gives new moms alternate work options if coming back full-time doesn't fit well into their new lives.

"We had a project manager who went on maternity leave this year for three months and ultimately could not come back full-time to her role," Masters explained. "However, she was very keen to continue on a project basis, which is actually exactly what the company needs right now."

Take a closer look at the benefits and perks your company currently offers. Be sure they not only cover the bases for male and female employees, but also that they express your company culture.

Use a tool like InHerSight, an online job board that allows women to anonymously rate their companies, to see how your policies are perceived by employees. With InHerSight's scorecards, you can see if you're received as good, bad, or neutral, and use feedback to better equip your workplace as one that supports women employees.

2. Recruit in unlikely places.

Highly talented and capable women are everywhere.

That's why Megan Shroy, president and founder of Approach Marketing, a PR, marketing, and communications company, never lets the recruiting process end.

Her team is constantly talking about their unique and beneficial work model on social media, which means anyone at any time could connect to their company's culture. Shroy, however, seeks recruiting opportunities in every aspect of her life.

"In one instance, I fielded a weepy phone call from a former colleague while she was pumping in the sole nursing/mother's room of her large office," Shroy explained. "She learned about Approach from a peer and knew she needed another option. She began working for us within a matter of days."

Another unlikely hire happened when Shroy also found out her family photographer was eager for a chance to work within Approach's work model.

Keep your company hat on at all times when meeting new people or even talking to your family and friends. As you genuinely speak about the positives of the company culture or structure, you never know who may be looking for an opportunity.

It's also important to keep an eye out for people's potential. Being able to see potential in someone who has never been given a chance is when many leaders find female employees they can help succeed.

3. Mentor inside and outside of the company.

Mentoring is frequently looked at as guiding someone within your company--especially during the onboarding process. However, Amy Elias, founder and CEO of public relations company Profiles, believes mentoring should happen during all stages of a female's career.

"One example of this would be when our now-president, Amy Burke Friedman, mentored our now-vice president, Bridget Forney. Bridget then mentored a talented young woman throughout college who we then recruited and had work for us for many years," Elias shared.

By strongly relying on mentoring both current and potential female employees, Profiles, Inc. is able to grow a strong network of successful women. This gives them an opportunity to tap into female talent pools before those women enter the working world.

Encourage everyone on your team to find someone to mentor. They could be a new hire, someone they believe has the skills to move up the ladder, or even a college student they see potential in and would like to work with one day.

Published on: Jul 24, 2017
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.