chicken and eggIn 2006, I found myself in a rut as a headhunter.

I’d been really successful by most standards: In the top 10% of rookie recruiters my first year…taken a massively under-performing practice from the being in the red to #5 in the world (out of 220+ offices) in less than a year… and started, built + sold a boutique search firm.

Yet, I was restless and ready to do something new.

My goal: to consult with Fortune 100 companies on their internal hiring practices. I wanted to make their teams lean and mean, like the firm I’d built.

I wanted to consult, versus joining a larger consulting firm, because as a single father I wanted flexibility to take my daughter to and from school.

As I started exploring this, I was continually met with the same push back…but not where I expected.

What I began hearing was…

“You can’t consult on internal recruiting if you haven’t ever worked within a corporation leading recruiting.”

I was at a bit of a loss since these SAME COMPANIES called me with their most difficult to fill, senior level positions.

Maybe you’ve run into this? The catch-22 of having produced the outcomes, but not having the requisite “experience” on paper.

So, how was I going to overcome these objections when it seemed like their mind was already made up?

The answer was with advocates.

I started to build advocates who could speak to my level of expertise and the impact my processes and teams had on their internal recruiting practices.

Former clients (many of whom were contemporaries of the people I was interviewing with) positioned me as “too good to ignore.”

This was WAY more powerful than me having to sell myself because they weren’t going to buy what I was selling.

But when you have someone else with no vested interest in the outcome who has influence speaking on your behalf, then that is powerful.

The results: my first consulting client (Freddie Mac) within 30 days and in less than 90 I had three (3) more (Northrop Grumman, General Dynamics and CSC).

What does this mean for you?

Think about your job and your professional network. Do you have any advocates that you could call right now that could help you influence decision makers?

Do you know how to naturally build advocates? This isn’t something that happens overnight, this takes consistent effort and attention.

But once you have an army of advocates who support you and your goals, then you become unstoppable. It’s like a multiplying effect on your efforts.

If you can’t get your calls answered or support for a project, then these are the people you call. They always have that perspective, advice, or support that can push you exactly where you want to go.

This is one of the most ignored benefits of learning the skill of building strategic relationships. You end up becoming a powerful force of influence. Everyone wants to pick up the phone when you call.

Now, I’m curious…who are your advocates? Are they influential? Do they help you get things done? Can you trust them to have your best interests in mind?