When I moved to Australia some ten years ago I was a mid 20s, single chap, a bit cocky and as keen to party as I was ambitious to make it big in recruitment. As is typical with most young recruiters, Friday nights (and some school nights) would see me out and about having a grand old time. One particular Friday night, after having one too many beers, I found myself in an altercation with a guy who was equally inebriated. He was also English and we had taken exception to each others choice of football team. Luckily for me (he was a very well built unit) it was far more hand bags at ten paces and didn’t go beyond the exchange of some verbal insults and choice language. I left the pub soon after and thought nothing more of it.
The weekend passed and I rocked into work on the Monday, fresh faced and ready for action. This particular Monday I was excited as I had organised a meeting with a client that I was very keen to do business with. I had asked my boss to come along as I had only worked at the agency for a few months and wanted to impress him with my slick client presentation skills and ability to close a deal. Upon arriving at the client’s office, we were shown into the boardroom and waited patiently. When the client walked in, I leapt up from the table ready to greet him with the strong handshake of a confident recruiter that was going to wow him. But when our eyes met, the strong handshake became more of a slippery fish and I just wanted the floor to open and swallow me. The guy standing in front of me was the same guy that that I had dealings of a very different nature with the previous Friday night !
I hoped he would not remember me. He didn’t say anything, but I am sure I saw him do a double take and give a little smile as if to say “I am going to enjoy this you little cocky ****”. I bumbled and sweated my way through the presentation, skipping through the PowerPoint slides whilst all the time watching the grin on this guys face get slightly bigger. I was convinced now that he knew exactly who I was. A slick client presentation this was not and as I came to the last slide my only thought was about getting out of there quickly and closing the door behind me, as opposed to closing the sale. In my agitated state I had forgotten what was on the last slide …and as I pressed the button and it appeared on the screen, the client broke his silence and let out a loud laugh. It said, “Our consultants operate with the highest integrity, respect for others and professionalism at all times”. It couldn’t get any worse. Unsurprisingly the meeting ended quickly with the client saying that he would get back to us. I presumed that this was his polite way of saying ‘no’ and I kicked myself for letting a potentially lucrative client slip through my fingers.
Later that day my boss called me into his office. He had just received a call from the client and for the second time that day I hoped the floor would open and swallow me. I braced myself. However, he had phoned my boss to say that he was really impressed and asked me to call him back to discuss five roles he wanted me to recruit for him. I wasn’t expecting that ! When I later spoke to the client he told me that he had found the whole thing very amusing and whilst he had enjoyed making me sweat earlier that day, he was not going to hold the previous Friday night against me. I was the best recruiter he had met and after all, it would be a bit hypocritical. To cut a long story short, I successfully filled those five roles and continued to work with the client over the next two years. He became my most valued client, and someone that I got on very well with.
What did I learn from this experience ? Firstly, everyone is a potential client (or candidate) not just the people that you deal with 9-5, Monday to Friday – always be on the watch. Secondly, never assume you know what a client is thinking – sometimes they are thinking the opposite (good and bad). Thirdly, clients are human beings and just like you they sometimes mess up and do stupid things - don’t put them on a pedestal.
DISCLAIMER: I am not, nor ever have been either an alcoholic or football hooligan.
Luke, having shared a quiet pint, or 2 with you on more than one occassion, and knowing just which football team you support, your discliamer is almost grounds for self-defamation, self-slandour and self-liable.....
Enjoyed your story ...Thanks for sharing
Thanks Colleen - glad you enjoyed it.