Title and position oftentimes is a self-claimed brand. It is nice to know someone by their profession for professional purposes. But, never start a project before assessing your counterpart.
In my first year working in an international organization, I tried connecting with a lot of people to see what we can do to help others within the same vision in energy development.
One day, someone DM-ed me through LinkedIn and asked to meet. I went to her profile and she claimed that she is an energy specialist, a person that I am looking for to collaborate with. I agreed and went to the meeting where she pitched her proposal.
It was a great idea actually. However, there were some points she should address so that her proposal meets our team’s vision. I tried to help her by giving some advice hoping that she would come again with a better proposal. We then have our second and third meetings where I really hope that we could run the project.
Long story short, she couldn't comply with the detail I gave her but insisted to provide her with a contract. She also explicitly asked me to provide her a flight and accommodation to support her meeting with a specialist (within my organization) in Malaysia. I thought it was nonsense because she asked for support from my team in Jakarta, and we do not have any business with the Malaysia team. So, I ignored her.
I thought it was the end of our conversation, until one day, our operation manager replied to her email, cc-ing my team. I was shocked that she voluntarily reached out to our country manager without letting us know. My senior colleague was even more shocked and quickly respond to it. He reminded us to beware of her because previously she played a role to get a project and tried to trick him and his counterpart. That day, I was really surprised knowing that fact and my senior’s experience with her. My senior asked our IT team to block her email so that she could not able to approach anyone in our organization.
She still tried to contact me and even made a new email account to approach me. I know that she also watches my LinkedIn profile regularly. So, I changed my status as if I quit my job and move to another company. In her last WhatsApp message, I said that I have moved to another company and no longer work with my team. That day, she never contacted me anymore and I felt relieved.
That time, I learned that it is important to really assess my counterpart before starting a new collaboration. I understand that my organization has an assessment standard, however, it is still important to spend some time to know them better before leaving them to our human capital team. After all, it is always better to work with people you trust personally rather than only believing their title.