You never know who you bump into? Are you prepared?

Had a fantastic meeting with a prospect (soon to be client if things go well) the other day. I walked out of the meeting in high spirits and as I approached the parking lot, I saw a familiar face among a triad that was walking towards the food court adjacent to the building I came from. He turned around, surprised, and said “Hey! Long time.”

I was stoked! Can’t tell you how happy I was! You see, I used to report to this chap a good 15 years ago. And I really used to admire his people-centeric leadership, a concept that I studied, embraced, and executed with much success later in life. So, this was serendipitous. To me. This chap seemed to be in a hurry.

I didn’t see a smile nor did I feel the conversation was engaging at all. He asked me what I’m up to these days and so did I. He described the exact same profile that I just finished discussing with the prospect minutes before. And before I could bring it up, he shoved his hands, signalling that the conversation is over, and said, “the guys are waiting for me. I’ll give you a call.”

I nodded and walked towards my car thinking what could I have done differently? Perhaps, I shouldn’t have interrupted his break? But that’s really not me. It’s hard for me to ignore familiar faces. No matter how busy or distracted I am. In fact, it’s one way to decompress from all the chaos that’s going on in my world.

Going back to this person wasn’t an option as he clearly had his priorities set — having coffee with his colleagues. And since he didn’t have my phone number (despite that he confidently told me that he would call me) I don’t even know how to reach him. Moreover, if he can’t respond in kind in-person, what are the chances that he would if I connect with him on LinkedIn or other social outlets?

From a recruiter’s point of view, I call this a missed opportunity. Here’s a person who’s perfect for a job that might change his life, for the good, and he doesn’t have the time to talk. What’s a professional to do? Move on and look for the next best option. Who knows, they might turn out to be a much better option for all?

Most believe that they’ve got to prepare for better opportunities. I think they’ve got to stay prepared for them, particularly if they’re experienced and eyeing senior roles. Let me tell you, most great opportunities come when you’re the least prepared. So, don’t get ready, stay ready.

P.S. Don’t ever lie or make things up. It questions your personal integrity. And for most organisations, trust is a must.

P.P.S. By the way, coffee with your new friends can wait. Particularly if it’s in the middle of the day. It never is as important as you think anyway.

By Sunil Nair

Nurturing leaders of tomorrow.

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