Carver Companies Blog

Are we relating anymore?

Jul 3, 2019
Peggy Olson

Managing Director


Since 2006, I've been building relationships one person at a time, over the phone.  When I first transitioned from being an HRD in a hotel, to executive search, I was given a desk, a phone, and a computer and told "to call the people on the list".   So, that's what I did.  I called each person, left a voicemail and very few people, if any, called me back.   After about 3 weeks of calling "the list", I decided to try something different or hang up my aspirations to be an Executive Recruiter.    Leaving messages or actually getting a hold of someone, began to feel more like a relationship starter.   I knew if they were not interested in the opportunity I was searching for, that they still had much more to tell me about.   Their lives, their desires, their goals for money, their goals for the next step up either in their hotel or their career.   I took the time to get to know them, even if they were not what I was specifically looking for at that time.  The day was much more interesting than what those first 3 weeks were like, as I began the process of relating to each person.

So often, we read books on how to be more successful that reference "relationships".   But if you've been anywhere lately, you will see everyone is either scrolling on their phone or talking on their phone.    I recently flew out of Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson, and in the gate area, I took a little poll.  98% of the people in the gate were looking at or talking on their phone.  I do it too, nothing wrong with it.  But are we really building any relationships when we are staring down?   We've all seen people walk right into other people, strollers with kids, even wading pools, or traffic because they are very busy relating via their device.  Or can we really call it relating?

In 13 years of Executive Search, I have known people through aging parents, loss of parents, births of children, ending of marriages, moves that did not turn out, moves that quickly ended when a property was sold right out from under them.   Houses that would not sell, forcing a decline of offer, all kinds of stuff about people that I was representing and sometimes not representing, because we had… a relationship.

If you have visited someone in a long-term care facility recently, it's all about the in-person visit.   I know a family that decided to give their 90-year-old mother an iPad so they could "Facetime".   Again, probably a great idea, and in this case, it turned about to be a wonderful way for her to see her great grandchildren that live far away.  But nothing replaces the exchange of an in-person visit, hug, and time spent talking over a cup of coffee.  

There are a multitude of algorithm methods for you to use to search through people on LinkedIn, Indeed, HCareers, and other privately sold databases.  They will measure your potential "short list" by title, keyword, geography, and literally any other parameter or "sorter" that you can insert.  It will not tell you who they are.  It will not tell you how quickly they return calls or emails, or what their story is.  Data does not a relationship make.   

Calling "the list" was never fast, and not always fun or productive.   But I learned how to gauge someone's interest, honesty, and responsiveness through my daily conversations and communications.   

When we work on a search, we have not lost touch with the art of relating to our candidates and our clients.  We talk to people in depth and every single thing we do is not always for our own immediate needs.   We continue to see value in person relating and dialogue.   

I've extended an offer via text.  I've closed a deal via text.  But I had a relationship in the beginning that led to my ability to communicate with that person in that fashion. 

My daughters both have professional careers and office lines.  They both have told me that when their voicemail light is blinking, they know it's me that called.   Because I'm the only one that actually leaves a Voicemail message.    So when you call me, and if you don't get me, please leave me a message.  I love to return calls.   Because I want a relationship with you.