Sourcers: Are You Providing The New HOT STUFF?

I used to write a lot about what I did as a phone sourcer.

Sometimes I get up really early and do phone banks.

That’s when I call into companies and thumb through their telephone directories by hitting “2” for any names starting with A, B or C and “3” for any names starting with D, E or F and so on.

Here’s a link on phone directories.

Yeah, that’s some of what phone sourcers do for early morning kicks – some of us.

Nowadays we do a lot of competitive intelligence stuff and we don’t write so much about it anymore.

This morning I had an early morning two-hour “chat” with my good friend Alejandro Guzman.

Alejandro is a recruiter.

Follow him on Twitter: @TRGAlejandro

He prefers that medium.

We got ‘round to talking about sourcing.

Alejandro declared:

You cannot source information that is already there.

The function is inherent in the title.

New information is provided by opening and penetrating organizations and mapping companies out.

Those are the values inherent in a sourcer.

If the information is online, that’s coalescing – not sourcing.

That’s retrieval and organization of existing information – more of a librarian’s function.

If you’re not providing original information you’re not a sourcer.Click To Tweet

To be a sourcer is to provide an original source of information.Click To Tweet

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I just about fell out of my lovely, high-pillowed bed that I sometimes work from in the mornings.

“Go on,” I said, my hand over my beating heart.

If you’re not providing anything fresh, you have to provide other services, like recruiting.

That’s why some sourcers are getting bogged down in engagement.

I do think Internet sources can provide new information – its just a rare skill just like phone sourcing.

Being a sourcer is providing NEW information.

It’s providing HOT STUFF.

I’m gonna get you a T-shirt. 

What’s your favorite color?

“Purple,” I answered, immediately.

“I love you, Alejandro.”

“I love you too, Maureen,” he said back to me.

I’m expecting a package, any day.

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!


7 Comments on “Sourcers: Are You Providing The New HOT STUFF?

  1. Thanks for the read! There are a number of things that I respectfully disagree with Alejandro on. “If you’re not providing original information, you’re not a sourcer.” That is a very problematic statement. It begs the question, “what really is original information?” Does the way you extract data/information make that original information? Mehhh. That’s tricky. The information you can gather by phone — while you may not think so — is out there a lot of times. So all that extra work may not be the most efficient way to get things done. If I can pull up an Excel spreadsheet on the internet with a company’s directory in 10 seconds and immediately start working on other things, does that not provide a great value? How long would it take for someone to do that by phone, and how accurate would that information be? I think Alejandro would be surprised at the wealth of information someone can “coalesce” on the internet.

    1. Hi Adam.

      Thanks for commenting!

      I don’t think Alejandro would be surprised but maybe he’ll comment himself – I believe he full well recognizes the great work some Internet sourcers are capable of.

      He DID say, “I do think Internet sourcers can provide new information – it’s just a rare skill just like phone sourcing.”

      I believe what he’s referring to are the ones who can find the information that’s “out there” (as you call it) that’s NOT been found before; the stuff that lies at such deep depth that it takes skill and ardor to discover.

      However; and few of you are at an advantage to dispute this – there IS much information that IS NOT “out there” and the ONLY WAY you’d know that is by doing what those like myself and a few others do – calling in and talking to people on the inside of companies gathering information and then fact checking that information as to whether or not it IS on the Internet – and when you do that and find that it is not – then – and only then – do you know FOR SURE and can argue these points with me (or anyone else.)

      There are, in addition, layers of “fact checking” to add to this dilemma. There may be information you obtain in context that may be “out there” but in the context that it’s “out there” makes absolutely no sense to its present use or present meaning.

      The Internet isn’t so great at communicating nuances.

      So, to speak to this point, finding something “on the Internet” without the correct context means very little to those who need information – and as data ages – and it’s aging fast and there’s more and more data aging faster and faster – this is becoming an increasingly larger and more complex problem in today’s decision-making process.

      These are sore points, I know, in our community but they don’t have to be. We all can get along and should get along – respecting one another. Human-to-human communication is the one thing the machines can’t take away from us and the more we can do that heart-to-heart the more effective we’re all going to be in the jobs we do.


      Maureen Sharib
      Phone Sourcer/Sleuth
      513 646 7306

      1. Maureen-

        I absolutely agree. My problem is probably more so with the language Alejandro chose in trying to make his point. To say that one way is better than the other is an inherently ignorant stance for anyone to take. I feel as if he tried to choose his words carefully, and yet still was able to rub me the wrong way. Saying something is more official or original because it is your practice (which is what he basically did) – even in jest – is going to raise some eyebrows, and beckon those with enough fortitude to respond.

        And before we bunny trail down that sore path, I have done what both you and Alejandro do — and at times am still asked to do it. I don’t particularly enjoy it, I’m not going to lie — but it’s definitely a legit and respectable skill to have. However, there are those that excel in what they do because they are good at what they do, and there are those that excel in what they do because people don’t want to do it (whether it’s because it’s an antiquated process, or it’s arduous as you said). I’m not saying one method is better than the other, or that there isn’t a need for both. But, I think you and Alejandro both underestimate what can be done with a computer and some time.

        Furthermore, the same thing about context can be said in regards to your practice. You can call in and org-map ’til your heart is content, but unless there’s a need for it and/or something becomes of it — it’s worthless and has wasted arguably more time. On my end, if I come across a list — and there’s no context — it’s very easy for me to discern if it’s worth it. And if you think you are at advantage to say that you can provide more information than what’s available out there “on the internet” (btw, please do not quote me as if to mock me — I am just using the language I feel would resonate the most with you and Alejandro), I will respectfully say I’d put money on that in Vegas. I’d put even more money on me leaving a rich man, as well.

        But we will have to agree to disagree. Or not. I am fully happy to keep this debate going — perhaps with Alejandro himself, as well. I was never looking to not get along with anyone, or to disrespect you or what you do. I am still not. I just couldn’t resist commenting on some of what was said.

        I know that at some point in time, we all need to market ourselves and what we do. So I get it. In a short time, perhaps both you and I will be out of work in this field. And perhaps somewhere down the line I will be making a post about how my old school method is far superior and that it provides better/more original results. At that point, I hope someone chimes in and disputes that, as well.

        -Adam Chao
        (Number withheld for those who want to call in to my employer and get it —OR — just do a quick search “on the internet”)

      2. Also, I’d like to hear what Alejandro defines as a sourced hire? Should I not get credit for finding someone online, because the information is “already out there”? Furthermore, if most of my hires come from INTERNET SOURCING – by Alejandro’s definition, am I not a sourcer?

  2. Also — what makes a sourcer valuable is not solely “providing the new hot stuff.” Intelligence does not solely mean new information. If I hand my company a list of new names and numbers that don’t really get any results, I might as well have handed them an old copy of the White Pages.

  3. As a final word – If the information retrieval part of what internet sourcers do makes them “librarians” (what about Data Analyists / Scientists that do the same thing — those are some well paid “librarians”, Alejandro), do you really think you should be called a “Sleuth”? If we’re being fair and honest — that’s more along the lines of telemarketing (nothing wrong with that, btw).

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