Executive search tips for reeling in your next big catch.

Maybe your eyes meet across a crowded convention or your heart beats faster when you hear that special someone address the Board of Trade: you know you’ve found the one you’ve been waiting for. Now how do you get that exec into your company headquarters? Here are some tips from executive searchers Don Prior of The Caldwell Partners International Inc. and Catherine Van Alstine of Ray & Berndtson. Check their little black book You’ve laughed together, dined together and made promises to one another. But there’s one last bit of business to take care of before you make that final commitment: the little matter of a reference check. “Don’t usurp the interview process,” warns Van Alstine. “You want other people’s opinions. Don’t get married too fast.” Be discreet Chances are you’re wooing someone who’s already gainfully employed, so be mindful not to put them in an awkward position. “Don’t ever leave a message that says you’re looking to poach someone or that you want to interview them or they’ve got the job, because you don’t know who listens to their messages,” notes Van Alstine. Same goes for email. And when you meet, do so in a neutral setting, urges Prior. Remember the old saying about walls having ears. Assess your needs Before you rush over with an offer in hand, take a moment to assess what you’re asking for. “Get a clear definition of the mandate for what you’re looking for,” cautions Prior. “What are the challenges to the role? What are the experiences that you want?” Put your passions aside and be clear about what you need and want. The exec who seems like the answer to your prayers may not be such a great fit after all. Book a date When you’re ready to make the first step, keep it short and sweet. Van Alstine suggests the following: “Call them and say, ‘I’m so-and-so, president of this company, and I saw you speak at a sales conference a year ago and I was really impressed… I need somebody who can lead the strategic direction of our company. I’d love to talk to you about whether or not you’d be interested.’” If they respond favourably, then you can set up a meeting to talk specifics. Show them a good time If the object of your affections currently lives in another city, you’re going to have to sell more than a job: you’ll have to sell them a lifestyle. So take them out on the town, and show off a little. “Some companies fly people to their state-of-the-art research-and-development centre,” says Prior. “They have the president or CEO or someone from the board meet them, they take people out to hockey games and baseball games and to Lift for dinner.” It’s all about the mojo.