Give Me 48 Hours

Someone called me yesterday in a rush.

“I need to find Application Engineers installing medical equipment — x-ray equipment to be exact — and I looked on LinkedIn and there’s not much I can use. Oh, sure, there are some application engineers who list ‘medical equipment’ in their profiles, but I need people from specific companies — companies like GE, Johnson & Johnson, 3M, Medtronics, Becton-Dickinson, Boston Scientific, Stryker, St. Jude, Varian, Cordis — you know, the majors. And I don’t need them if they worked at those companies in the past — I need them working at those companies today!

“I also don’t need all the desperate substitute offerings LinkedIn is giving me because they don’t have exactly what I need –I can’t wade through that mess of misfits.”

“Can you help me?”

“Yes,” I said.

“Can you help me fast?” he asked.

“Yes,” I said again.

“I have to warn you, though, a couple of those companies you listed are customers of mine so I won’t be able to source them but I think we’ll be able to add some other companies that will yield you a list of 30 or 40 that might do the trick for you,” I added.

“And you’ll be able to get me names of the application engineers at those companies who are installing medical equipment today?” he asked. There was an emphasis on the word “today.”

“Yes,” I answered.

“And you’re sure they will be application engineers — the guys in the field installing the equipment?” he pressed, still unsure I knew what he was talking about.

“I promise,” I solemnly swore.

“How long will it take?”

“Give me 48 hours,” I answered. I’ll be able to send you probably half of what’s out there to get you started. Give me another 48 hours and I’ll send you the rest.”

I heard the surprise in the silence that followed.

“You there?” I asked.

“Yes, yes, I’m here,” he stammered. You sure you’ll be able to find these guys? I’ve wasted two weeks foolin’ around with the crap online. I can’t waste any more time.”

I understood I had a doubting Thomas on my hands long before he asked me this last question. I also understand the hurt, confusion, and doubt that his own failed efforts on this difficult search were casting upon mine. It wasn’t his fault — he’s been led to believe the remedy for hard-to-fill positions like his resided online.

It doesn’t.

The information* he seeks resides in the tightly cocooned interiors of companies like the world-class players he mentioned and it’s hard to get to. It takes a refined sense of fast timing and intuition to reach it.

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Fast timing and intuition doesn’t exist online.

They just don’t.

They exist in the sharply honed telephone skills of clinicians like me and other expert phone sourcers who paw and peek and dig and dive into these companies. It exists in your own or another’s ability to engage strangers to tell you things.

Anyone can “engage” the Internet.

It never says “No.”

It never barks back at you or asks you why you need the information you’re seeking.

The Internet is safe.

It’s anonymous and it’s modern technology so it feels like something’s getting done.

The results (in the example given above) speak for themselves.

“I’m sure,” I assured him. “If I don’t, you don’t pay me!” I added, closing the deal.

“Give me 48 hours,” I said.

“What do you need to get started?” he asked.

*Before anyone gets too excited let me state that there are some positions that are fillable with information found online. But the high paying, challenging ones? Not so much.

Maureen Sharib has been a “Socratic sourcer” her entire sourcing career; from the moment she first picked up the faxed list of Silicon Valley high-tech companies that was her target list to “phone source” in 1996 to today she has instinctively followed this method of investigative sourcing using (mostly) the telephone.  She is a proponent of sourcing as a synonym for success and envisions the craft moving away from a dangerously drudgery-paced life-form existence to an exciting investigative/competitive place within organizations where practitioners co-exist within a framework of market research, human resources, and C-level future planning. She owns the phone sourcing and competitive intelligence firm, Inc. You can contact her at Maureen at or call her at (513) 646-7306.  If she’s not on the phone she’ll pick up!