One hit wonders or career-long money spinners? (Are you a bridge builder or a bridge burner?)

Life has been very hard for many people over the past 18 months, me included. The credit crunch, the recession, call it what you will, has certainly hit home. And, working in a recruitment related role, it’s been all the more apparent that these have indeed been tough times.

One week I would be reasonably busy, the next, hardly, the following, not a bean. One minute an agency would be my biggest client, the next it would suddenly put a freeze on using freelancers and I would get no work from them at all. Even now, it’s still a bit ‘stop start’.

At the beginning of 2010, following an even leaner two months than is normal for that time of year, I was beginning to think that maybe, just maybe, I would have to go out and get myself a part-time job, just to supplement my income.

And then it happened.

I got a call out of the blue from a woman who I used to write copy for when she was the creative traffic manager at her previous company. They too had put a freeze on the use of freelancers and it had been almost two years since we had last spoken. I had sent the occasional email during that time saying I was still around and available for work, but always got very politely told that they were still not able to use freelancers. The last email I sent bounced, so I found out who had taken over her role and was informed that she had left the company but that they were still not using freelancers! They still aren’t to this day (I pester someone else periodically now, just to keep my name out there).

Anyway, back to this call out of the blue. She told me she had indeed moved jobs and that there had also been a freeze on at her new place, but that she remembered me from her last agency. Was I still doing the same job and could I help her out?

Talk about music to my ears!

The work started to filter through, slowly at first, but as I worked on more and more clients’ business, so the volume increased to the point that, from nowhere, that company has become my biggest client, for the time being at least. I am sure it won’t always be that way – I am certainly not counting any chickens – but it does prove one thing. It pays not only to provide a good service when times are good but to keep in touch even when there’s nothing much doing.

It’s easy sometimes in business to think, ‘oh well, that’s that, it was good while it lasted, but I’m not going to get any more out of that person’ and move on. But, if you build a good rapport with someone, there is no reason why you cannot, at some stage in the future, work with, or for them, again. That candidate you just placed could be a one hit wonder or they could be a money-spinner for you periodically throughout their career. Am I alone in thinking it makes sense to see clients/candidates as a long term investment rather than a short term gain? Are you a bridge builder or a bridge burner?

Views: 74

Comment by Tim Collins on May 20, 2010 at 12:25pm
I couldn't agree more. It's so important to maintain relationships with clients and candidates even if nothing is happening right now.
Comment by Jeff Stahl on May 25, 2010 at 1:33pm
Nice Piece...Well Put
Comment by Alasdair Murray on May 25, 2010 at 1:41pm
Thank you both for your comments. By the lack of general feedback I can only guess that a) everyone of course keeps their clients and candidates sweet at all times or b) there are a lot of wham bam thank you ma'am one hit wonders out there! Old school is certainly the bridge building way but I am not sure about new school. More hard-nosed and transactional rather than long term relationship based? Who knows if they won't answer the question :)

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