By Dan Simmons

There you are, seated at your desk, trying desperately to meet your next deadline when an associate stops by (or maybe a headhunter calls) to tell you that he was just speaking with a top performer from your direct competitor.  We’ll call him “Paul.”  Paul asked if your company is hiring.  You’ve heard of Paul, and if you had an open position, he would be the first person you’d contact.  But you don’t have an open slot on your team.  What do you do?

You have two choices. (A) You could go back to the mound of useless paperwork on your desk, or (B) you could pick up the phone and invite Paul to lunch.

The correct answer is (B).

Right now, those of you with mounds of paper and tight deadlines are desperately trying to stop reading this article, but you know in your heart that I’m right.  Here’s why: it’s what you don’t know about this situation that could hurt you, and that includes the following:

  • Paul’s Timetable
    • It might fit your budget year or he might be able to wait until something opens up
  • Team Members
    • How many on your team are presently interviewing for better jobs elsewhere?  There may be an opening sooner than you think.
  • Change
    • Paul might believe that your competitor is about to make is big change.  Top performers often get out just before a big mistake.  Knowing about this ahead of time could help your company capitalize on it.
  • Competitive Advantage
    • How much do you know about your competitors?  Isn’t there an old adage that states, “Keep your friends close . . . and your enemies closer”?  Use this meeting to get a better perspective on your competitor and a different perspective on your company.
  • Job Advancement
    • Paul could reach high ranks someday and you might have the opportunity to join his team in a more senior role.  Wouldn’t a positive meeting today be a nice step to a great job later?

Should you do this with every person you hear about?  Probably not.  But, you should do this with people who work in hard-to-fill positions and with top 20% performers in their field.

Be sure to check back this week for a special download of HOW TO CONDUCT A COURTESY INTERVIEW.  You won’t want to miss it!

If you have a question about this topic, please contact me at