Hidden in plain sight; major decisions are being made beyond the boardroom.

By Andrew Pollard, President, Mining Recruitment Group

A lot of major decisions aren’t happening in the confines of boardrooms any more. It’s hard to go anywhere in the downtown core without running into a familiar face.

Being an executive recruiter in such a tightly knit industry such as mining, I am always able to put a name to a face.

As I walk past a Blenz or Starbucks and take note of who’s having coffee with whom, it’s a safe bet that more than the weather is being discussed.

I have had more client meetings over the past year in public settings than in my office.

During the recent Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada conference in Toronto, the lobby bar at the Royal York Hotel across the street was filled with discussions about corporate restructurings, acquisitions, strategy, hiring and firing.

Some of the most prominent searches I have ever worked on began over lunch at the Terminal City Club or over a cup of coffee in Dundarave.

In an industry where everyone knows everyone else, decisions happen on the fly and formality is very often thrown out the window.

Those decisions aren’t based solely on how a person conducts him or herself in a corporate setting.

A lot of connections are made in the public arena, and a person must ensure they project the same type of image in the marketplace that they do in the office.

Most of the executive placements I’ve completed in the recent past didn’t start with a CV.

Rather, they were with people I met three, four or five years ago at a conference or over a beer at the Cactus Club.

In many cases, it’s safe to say the typical “job interview” format is dead.

At the executive level, success isn’t always based on what you can do. Who you know often counts for a lot as well.

Whether you’re looking to put together management teams, be exposed to deal flow or simply show up on other people’s radars, it pays off to put yourself out there.

Over the last number of years, I’ve learned that most executives are adept at talking about their skill set in a typical interview format.

If business only took place in the boardroom then things would be great.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t.

The great candidates are those who are immediately able to create that favourable impression, whether in the office or at the pub.

They know precisely what makes them unique and know how to articulate it.

It is not so much charisma; it tends to be confidence.

As a recruiter, my value is exclusively based on the calibre and depth of my digital rolodex and my ability to connect people.

If you are an executive in the industry, or if you one day hope to be one, your value (and, very often, net worth) will also have a correlation to how connected you are.

Who you are able to align yourself with, the projects and opportunities you are exposed to and the staff you are able to bring on board is very often built on the connections you made while doing other things.

Either you are creating your own image or those you meet are creating it for you.

Either way, you are always on stage.

Perceptions are made in an instant and hard to change once formed. Careers and companies alike are often shaped by chance encounters and the informal chats over a cup of coffee.

Be aware of this and take note: it’s happening all around you.