WARNING: This is definitely a long message - everything I included is relevant so please don't flame/attack me if you think it's too detailed. EDIT (4/29) None of the answers to this point are remotely helpful and the comments about the message being too wordy -- I warned you that it was complicated -- maybe you can get away with not needing to pay attention to details in your day jobs, but this was a serious request for help. I strongly suspect many of you will experience what I did except for the part that you deserved it and you shouldn't be given a chance to redeem yourself. Sheesh!
A couple of months ago I connected with a person on LinkedIn that worked at a company that I was fired from a few years before he joined. We sent a few messages back and forth via e-Mail and learned that he was planning to hire someone to work for him once his company got its next round of funding which would be "real soon". I convinced him to meet with me so that I could be on his "short list" when the opportunity became available.
Long story short (or should I say short story long), the meeting went well. In fact, we discussed numbers and amazingly enough he didn't flinch when I offered my rate. At the end of the meeting, he told me he was going to go on vacation, but would get back to me the following week with a proposal.
We parted ways and I waited to hear from him. He didn't reach out, so I sent him a couple of other messages to follow up. At first, he offered to introduce me to a number of others at his previous company (which was fine with me as well - my goal more than anything was to re-enter this field since I haven't worked in it for quite some time) which he gladly did. At that point, I had to wait again because the guy had to go on a few business trips once he got back (which he didn't tell me about previously). Clearly I wasn't happy about that, but I said that was fine. Along the way he contacted me to tell him that one of the companies he was meeting with was looking to hire someone, but from a title perspective it was a non-starter. I politely declined and asked him if he could introduce me to others in his network which he agreed to.
Fast forward a couple of weeks later, I sent him an e-Mail with the names of some people that he had in his LI network that I knew were actively hiring. At that point, he wrote back and said that he had to "be honest with me" -- he already had another person in mind and that he wanted to wait and see if he would take it. If he didn't, then he would conduct a full search and consider me as one of the candidates at that point. This was clearly a disappointing development -- I went from his short list to being potentially considered if his "favored option" decided to pass.
Once again, I swallowed my pride and said that was fine but would appreciate intros to his network which he agreed to. At that point, his tone changed. In a follow-up e-Mail, he said that he "really needed to be honest with me". Long story short, he talked to a few people that we both knew (wouldn't say who) and asked each of them about me as well as a recruiter. Long story short, every single person he asked told him that they wouldn't recommend hiring me for a full time role. At that point, he said he might be able to offer some project based work, but that's the best he could do.
At this point, I lost it. I always knew that my reputation was far from flawless, but I didn't realize that some people were so vindictive that they would still try to prevent me from getting a job, in one case nearly 20 years later (?!) I wrote back to him coming clean as well and wanted to explain how I got to where I am today. Long story short, I have always done a good job, but due to office politics, I often got ensnared into no-win situations and would like to tell him what happened at each of these companies and let him decide if I deserved to be treated this way. Amazingly enough, he said he was willing to listen so we scheduled a date to meet at his office.
I went to the office and sat with him for an hour recalling how I started in this field based on a broken promise by an incompetent manager that had reputation problems of his own and tried to recover three times -- each time failing to do so in gory detail. He then reminded me about the recruiter at which point I flatly told him that recruiters have notoriously thin skins and poor people skills of their own so I wouldn't pay attention to what she said. At that point, he admitted that he didn't know what was going on and that nothing I did warranted the disdain from the people who he spoke with and reverted to his previous story -- he already had someone in mind for the role that I was hoping for, but also said that he'd give me a chance. I eagerly accepted because at least it could give me a chance to re-enter a field where my reputation was damaged unfairly.
Fast forward to last week. I started to work with him at which point he gave me a few small-ish projects to work on and started to make progress on them. We "met" a few times, once in person where I met his colleagues which was a good thing. He definitely seems comfortable with me helping him out, but I really don't want to disappoint him and ideally be either hired by him full time or at the very least, leverage him for intros to others and explain that I deserved a chance.
Sorry for the insanely long note - my question is what do I do to ensure that I am successful with this guy? He seems like he has already chalked up what happened to me as being a victim of some very nasty politics from people who abused their authority, but you never know for sure.