Last year, I was recruiting for a very challenging Interactive VisualDesigner/Coder/HTML5 expert with creative chops. I did all of the things that I normally do - posted the position, reached out to my network to see if anyone had any referrals, went to Meetups etc.
During the course of my sourcing, I connected on LinkedIn with Dave. Dave and I were on the high school lacrosse team and we knew each other reasonably well, but I had not spoken to him since then. I noticed on LinkedIn that he was in Digital Marketing so I decided to send him an email to see if he might have any referrals for my difficult designer opening.
Here is the response that I received:
I was glad to hear from you since we knew each other from high school, but upon reading your note, I have some friendly advice: if you are looking for something from someone, show a little personal interest first. As is, no one comes immediately to mind, but I am far less incented to help you given your lack of personal interest shown after all these years.
After reading this, I was irate...with myself. Well, I was initially a little miffed at the message but it didn't take me long to realize that he was absolutely right. I did not take the time to re-establish the connection. My first email to him started with, "I hope all is well" but then went straight into my referrals pitch. I have left more personal messages for plumbers.
My response to Dave was, "thank you". I explained that this was not my style (it really wasn't and it certainly isn't now). Simply put, I had slipped into autopilot and just sent out an email without really thinking about it. He could have easily ignored my message, but I am so happy that he offered the constructive criticism.
His advice reminded me to turn off the autopilot and just be human.