Headspace: Cultivating relationships through tough times

"I think that it is an exciting time, business isn't terrific but it certainly gives us an opportunity to cultivate relationships for when it starts to swing back." -Steve Ross

Situated in the fun, little community of Los Gatos, California is the nine-month old search firm, MacCloud & Associates and its founder Steve Ross. Steve comes to search with an extensive background in digital entertainment, having headed up HR for Digital Communications Associates before moving on to a little company called Sony Electronics. Steve tells the delightful tale of conducting business development on the East Coast when he was wooed into taking a position with a separate Sony entity in San Francisco that was getting ready to launch a modest video game business. Modest indeed, eleven years later with its empire towering, Sony Entertainment and PlayStation said good bye to its VP of Operations when Steve stepped out of their limelight and into his own.

Steve is quick to share that he has always related very closely to the business of HR and has been especially drawn to the staffing function. "Staffing is the one thing that I really get excited about. I don't know if it was the hunt or closing the deal," you can almost hear the smile. He tells of a fluctuating staff as Fall usually beefed up temp numbers at Sony when new games set for release were tested; imagine 300 kids playing video games all day.

"After sitting on the other side of the desk retaining search firms and working with contingency agencies - it was very apparent to me that there was a real void in recruiters and staffing people that understood this business -digital entertainment- and were able to successfully work in the industry." Steve failed to come across any recruiters that fully comprehended the space and truly grasped the energy or concept of digital entertainment. He picked up his chips at Sony and started MacCloud & Associates with the intention of being positioned in such a way as to fill many companies' needs.

When asked what was the most difficult part of starting his own search firm, Steve pondered and then replied, "Getting accustomed to having to continually reinforce and be proactive in keeping my networks up and always selling my services. When you say you are VP at Sony, doors open instantly. I could leave a voicemail and get a call back immediately. It is difficult to keep the network hot. " He is using the degrees of separation concept as he continues to speak with those he knows and those that know people he knows. A non-virtual LinkedIn, if you will. How did he get the word out about his change and new business launch? "LinkedIn helped tremendously and I wrote a press release, had it proofed and sent out by NPR ."

Relaying what many small business owners feel, Steve offers a personal experience, "This is very important for a lot of people transitioning to their own thing. The social aspect of being on your can be very difficult. When you work with a corporation, you become very accustomed to the social side. " It's all that darn alone time - many of us experience this. "You can force communications that drive you to do better."

The future is bright as Steve looks forward to having a small number of very close clients that he can assist in growing their business. That doesn't mean constantly be working on open reqs but cultivating close relationships where clients are free to pick up the phone and say, "We are thinking about this..." and then helping them through that. "Sort of an early-stage recruitment arm for smaller companies. This won't generate revenue now, but when they are ready, I will be there to take their call. I was there for them through the tough times."

Steve brings his cumulative experience to a conference table and telephone. He gets it. The marriage of client and search firm, the loyalty that is established - it pays off in the long run. The best way to do that? Match your services to the client's business objectives and not in a billable way. "Helping them helps you. Also, you have to know their business, what is going on in that space; you can't just be an expert in recruiting. You bump into people on the soccer field or in a grocery store - they start talking about what they do and you can tuck it away for later."

I want to shop where he shops.

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