Sometimes one just has to blog, particularly when something just phases or amazes you enough to put fingers to keys. I’ve just telephoned one of my former clients, to be told by reception that “he doesn’t take calls”. Now, I’ll call his mobile and reach him there, so no drama. So here’s the rub.
Reception didn’t even know who I was. They didn’t even bother to ask, and just offered to give me my client’s email address. I could have been anyone, from the hard-nosed pushy salesperson to the boss of one of the divisions who just happened not to have this guy’s internal or direct number. OK, so most people we’d like to speak to already have our contact details, but not always. You could be turning away someone important, or making it difficult for them to get hold of you.
So why my horror, disgust and shock? It’s because this person was the HR Director, running a (supposedly) people-centric function, that’s also gaining a worrying reputation for being difficult to engage and offering limited #value. Now HR Directors can’t take many and all of the calls. But if they (and, by association, their function) want to be seen as approachable, they should at least find out what someone wants before they shut them down or close them off. Wait before they build a protective wall, or dig a moat around them. And don’t give reception the message that they don’t take any calls. It makes them seem aloof and arrogant. Maybe they are, but they sure as hell don’t want that reputation to stick. Rant finished. I’m over it now!
It’s nice to be headhunted. It happens to me reasonably often and, despite loving what I do, I’m always happy to talk. You never know when a great opportunity will emerge, and I sometimes refer recruiters to those in my expanding network. It’s part of being a “link-man” (a role I relish).
But it’s funny how every conversation makes me think of @meritology. This morning I had a quick chat, with a very bright researcher, about a very big role. Two things struck me about the call:
- They were finding out whether I could do the job. I was trying to find out about the job. The written brief was heavy on content (targets and numbers mainly) and light on context. It told me very little about the company, in terms of its culture or why it is confidently adopting such a high-growth strategy. So I didn’t glean much from the call. Maybe the researcher was poorly briefed, but we certainly didn’t connect. It felt a much too one-sided call, and that switched me off.
- There was little information about the CEO (the leader and the boss in this situation). All I gained was that he is “bright and went to Harvard’. Why would they mention that? It must be because having been to Harvard automatically makes him destined for success, a great guy, and someone with whom I’d really get along. Err, no actually. I’ve nothing against Harvard, or indeed any of the high-quality schools in the US. I just haven’t experienced any of them, so it’s hard to make any judgement either way.
So I find myself having only the following information (or assumptions) to work on – it’s a high-growth role, in an bluntly target-driven organisation I know little about, working for someone who has a completely different background to me. On balance, it’s looking like a “no” – not something I’d ever like to pursue.
What’s my fundamental point? If you’re trying to get a person interested in something, think about what would appeal to them. Get off your standard script, and have a real conversation. Work out their drivers and motivators, and explain things in their terms. And be careful what you drop into conversation – having been to Harvard is laudable, but it doesn’t light rockets and fireworks in my mind. I don’t really care. There are brilliant people here, there and everywhere.
Good afternoon. Great afternoon actually. I’m about to go for a walk in the Henley hills, and make the most of the glorious weather – I swear we have a micro-climate here. It always seems to be sunny by the river.
But like a dam, something interrupted my flow. I’ve just received a LinkedIn invitation. No surprise there, as I have fast-approaching a thousand connections. But this invitation is from someone I haven’t yet met. Now, hang on a minute! We’re scheduled to meet but, until we do, how would I know you’re going to be valuable (and me to you)? Shouldn’t we establish that first, before we become bosom business buddies?
This might be my shortest-ever blog, because I just have one piece of crisp and clear advice. Don’t assume you’re going to be of #value to someone. Focus on proving you add #value to them. And only then should you try to move your business relationship to the next level. Sometimes the “too fast, too soon” thing turns into a great relationship. But more often it fizzles out before it really gets going, or ends in a messy divorce.
Now there’s a cheery thought for a sunny day. Maybe I do need that walk…