Thorough Sourcing Part VI

First off, I’d like to hand out the “extra credit” to last week’s Sourcing Test.

The extra credit goes to nobody because nobody answered the specific question:
“Tell me why knowing Lisa’s name is listed as one of the six important pieces of information.”

And this is one of the basic problems in sourcing — not listening closely enough to the instructions.

It’s not just a sourcing problem — many people in many different jobs suffer this sin — but it’s a special problem in sourcing because sourcing is about the research.

If you’re not hearing the right information, how in the world do you expect to be able to produce the right information?

You can’t expect it and you can’t expect your sourcers to be doing it if they’re not well trained in listening.

That being off my chest allows me to answer my own question.

Lisa’s name is one of the six important pieces of information gathered on the first call to the Gatekeeper because…it’s the Gatekeeper’s name!

Remember, you’ve heard me say, time and time again:

“Sourcing is simple but it’s not easy.”

It’s simple because some very fundamental rules apply to the process and it’s not easy because the hardest things to overcome are our own bad habits.

Not listening is a bad habit.

There. I said it again.

If I know the Gatekeeper’s name — and I’ve written it down as I heard it, in my research document – and if I’m not able to gather the information I seek on this call — I’ll know the name of the person I’m likely to reach on my second (and maybe third, fourth, and fifth call) and knowing this person’s name is a critical component in my process.


Albert Einstein said, “The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources.

At first glance those of you who read this may think Einstein meant not to give credit where credit was due.

I don’t think he meant that at all.

I think he meant that a great work is an amalgamation of techniques and theory used in a unique way that makes a process (creatively) your own.

If you know a person’s name, and you also know that a person’s name (to their own ear) is the sweetest and most important sound in that person’s language you possess a powerful key to unlocking the mystery of communication.

You have but to know an object by its proper name for it to lose its dangerous magic.” — Elias Canetti

Remembering (knowing) a person’s name creates an instant familiarity that “connects” with another person in a subtle and effective way.

Phone sourcing is all about the subtle.

Knowing her name when you speak with her a second time is a magical compliment that speaks silently to her ego. She’s important enough for you to have remembered her.

Knowing also how to use the person’s name is an artful form of communication.

Imagine how you’d feel if someone you met last week greeted you with your first name without you having to insert it as a prompt.

You’d like it — don’t deny it.

What you wouldn’t like is if the person repeated your name too many times — in a way that sounded false — as in every (or every other) sentence.

“Lisa? Hi, this is Maureen Sharib. Lisa, can you transfer me to Sheila McKinney? Before you do, though, Lisa, can you tell me –is Sheila one of the pipeline engineers there?  She is?  I thought so, Lisa. In case I can’t reach Sheila, Lisa, Michael Edwards is also one of the pipeline engineers I could try? That’s great, Lisa. And just in case I can’t reach him, Lisa, either, can you tell me who else is in that group I could try?”

It sounds awkward doesn’t it?

Say it like that and your chances of learning the names of the other three pipeline engineers are in the group are just about zero.  If you try the following on for size, your chances go up to about 50%:

“Lisa?  Hi, this is Maureen Sharib. Can you transfer me to Sheila McKinney? Before you do, though, can you tell me — is Sheila one of the pipeline engineers there? She is? I thought so. In case I can’t reach Sheila, Michael Edwards is also one of the pipeline engineers I could try? That’s great, Lisa. And just in case I can’t reach him, either, can you tell me who else is in that group I could try?”

Suddenly Lisa turns to putty. She loses the caution she remembered to have on the first call and her ear tells her you may be one of the good guys.

There are a couple things at work here besides knowing (and repeating) her name. I’ll leave the identification of those things to you to answer in this week’s sourcing test, in a minute.

At this time I’d like to address last week’s answers to last week’s test.

Chinmay, I’m delighted you answered but I have to say you worry me. Your answer says (to me) that you’re making this way more elaborate than it needs to be. You astutely identified that one of our missions, as phone sourcers, is to appear as an “insider.”

That can be done without saying very much.

It can certainly be done without saying so much as to trip ourselves up and I’m afraid your answer carries every indication that is what could happen.

You’re saying way too much.

When you say (to a manager, no less!) you’re trying to send an email about a “new project/project details/new changes in laws or procedure/documents which belong to them” you’re inviting inquiry, my friend.

Think about it. You’re talking to a manager. This is something that sounds rather vague and he doesn’t know (first) about it and you, a stranger, are sending his members detailed information?

I suspect there are managers who would let you past/give you his group’s names but I also suspect not many would.

I am well aware different things work for different folks but this attempt would not be something I recommended.

Your next suggestion, playing with VoiceMails, is something I would recommend! Although I would not tell the same stories you did; again they’re too complicated and, for the most part, probably not true!

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What if the person you reach is the group’s administrative assistant and they’re all sitting next to her and she can plainly see that all three people are not on the phone and answering their phones?

Your “story” would ring false.

It’s not likely to happen that you reach the group’s AA and all those facts are in place but why risk it?

This might be better:

“I’m sorry, I know I have the wrong number. This is Maureen Sharib. I’d like to reach Michael Edwards in the pipeline engineering group. Can you help me? Great! In case I don’t connect with him, do you know any of the others in his group?”

Chances are, if it’s a smaller company, the person will know and at this point it’s a matter of extracting those names from this haphazard participant.

And, further chances are that you haven’t strayed beyond any boundaries that increase your chances of “being caught” (out).

And that’s what we all want to avoid, isn’t it?

When I talked in an earlier chapter about phone sourcing being high stress I’d like to further elaborate that we add to the stress of it when we wander past the truth.

There’s no need for it.

Remember, phone sourcing is simple but it’s not easy.

But it can be a lot easier than you suspect if you keep things simple.

On another note about your e-mail — I don’t use the technique but I’m curious about it.

How often (what percent of the time) do you get replies with other names on it?  I can see where this would be a valuable technique (especially near holidays!) and may be one worthwhile adding to a phone sourcer’s arsenal.

I loved the word “quick-wittily”! It pretty much summed up what a phone sourcer needs to be.

Gregg, sourcers are here on ERE and they’re also over at the Sourcecon site. People interested in phone sourcing specifically are members of my ASK Maureen and MagicMethod groups here on ERE. There is also a ning site I own that they frequent as well as a Yahoo Group: Sourcers Unleashed.

Ted, I know you get it.

Brian Kevin, an article from you on inbound recruiting would be fascinating!

Jeremy, what’s your title?

Keith, I know you get it too.

Glenn, an article about your “3+ Method’ here on ERE is long overdue and I eagerly await it!

You made a remark a while ago that has always stuck with me and it had to do with finding the correct spellings for names. That’s not always easy to do when phone sourcing. I’d love to hear your thoughts on that as well!

It’s Test Time!  As stated earlier, put away your books and put on your thinking caps.

In the following statement tell me what things are at work that would cause Lisa our Gatekeeper to drop her (earlier) defenses.

“Lisa? Hi, this is Maureen Sharib. Can you transfer me to Sheila McKinney? Before you do, though, can you tell me — is Sheila one of the pipeline engineers there? She is? I thought so. In case I can’t reach Sheila, Michael Edwards is also one of the pipeline engineers I could try? That’s great, Lisa. And just in case I can’t reach him, either, can you tell me who else is in that group I could try?”

This is an ongoingseries regarding phone sourcing. Here’s part I, part II, part IIIpart IV, and part V.

Here is this Tuesday’s Phone Sourcing Tip/it is also listed in the ASK Maureen group here on ERE. I hope you’ll join and contribute to our discussion!
When presenting yourself for a job as a phone sourcer be specific as to what you’re offering as service.A recent presenter at Sourcecon/NY, Paul Houston, enumerated the need for clarity in the sourcing profession when he stated, “…the term “sourcer” has a different meaning to each individual depending on how they think about the role of sourcing in the overall recruiting process. Read his call for clarification.

Phone sourcing IS NOT finding a name online and then calling to see if the person is “still there.”

It’s much more than that and if you’re following this series you’re beginning to realize it!

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!