The world is actually built on a series of personal relationships.
The truth of this statement was brought home to me many times during my near decade in the Advertising business, and subsequent to that from my experiences during my job search in trying to get to know people in the Venture Capital and Search business. It is hard to get people to trust you when their income depends on who they introduce to whom.
From 1997 to just before the recession that began in 2001, I worked the search community one recruiter at a time to sell The FENG as a resource. Unfortunately, recruiters don’t talk much to each other. And, even within firms, they pretty much run an independent business. It was a lot of hard work, but it was paying off before the implosion in their profession that took place over the next three years.
During this most recent recession, we have once again seen the ranks of the search community greatly diminished. There are now probably new entrants to this industry. As a networking group, we call them Friends of The FENG.
I am not alone in this task of relationship building that never ends. Many of our chapter chairs also “work the crowd” on behalf of their local chapters and the national organization. Our work is never done. There are always recruiters who haven’t heard of us or who for whatever reason haven’t tried us.
Still, a reputation can be lost in a heartbeat. And, once undone is never easy to repair. I would ask all members to keep this in mind as they go about their business of trying to provide for their families. The FENG is the goose that lays golden eggs. Let’s keep that happening.
The very simple issue for everyone to focus on is that we NEVER run around recruiters who have shown us the courtesy of publishing a position description for one of their clients in our national newsletter or on one of our local posting boards. NOT EVER.
With the Internet and its search capabilities, I know that some of you think you are very smart and even when they don’t tell you who their client is, you can do a little research and figure it out. I would ask you not to do this except for your own edification. By that I mean you may do any research you like from public sources, but please don’t EVER call one of their clients and “ask a stupid question.”
People in the search business are human. Just like you and me, once in a while they make a mistake, like telling a blabbermouth the name of their client instead of keeping it on a “need to know” basis. I would ask you to give them a break and keep their secrets. They might even give you sufficient information to figure out their client’s name, but not mean to. Again, keep it to yourself.
If we wish to keep their trust, we need to learn to keep their secrets too. It shouldn’t be too much to ask for “getting first bite of the apple,” which we often do.
While it is probably redundant to explain why you don’t run around recruiters, I will do it anyway. It is analogous to shooting yourself in the foot. Recruiters, even contingency recruiters have hard won relationships with their clients. Their clients trust their judgment. If you sneak your credentials in front of their client during an active search, trust me, since they didn’t find you, they will come up with a rationale as to why you aren’t a good fit.
Your best shot is the front door, and that is often through their good offices. Let’s work hard to keep that welcome mat which reads “Welcome members of The FENG” firmly in place.