Wednesday, June 23, 2010

What's Your Reason?

I received a call from someone that I worked with many years ago. I haven't heard from him in years. We were both consultants that took a slightly different direction. I was so surprised to get a call.

Hi Pat, This is Tony. How are you?

Wow! Tony, great to hear from you. It's been forever. I'm fin, (and without being able to finish the word fine or the sentence, Tony interrupted to continue his purpose for the call).

You know Pat. In this economy we need to help each other. We need to support people we know. You see top executives and I'm sure you hear about opportunities for potential consultants. You know Pat, we have to support each other.

When you hear of an opportunity, you could mention my company. You can give me the first chance to bid. If my candidate is accepted, I'll pay you a referral. I'm sure you have some great contacts and hear of many opportunities. In this economy, we really do have to help each other.

The conversation went on for a bit longer.

Did I get to say what I would need? No!

Did I get a chance to explain my new direction? Ever so briefly.

Do you think that the "referral" incentive would encourage me to suggest Tony's firm first? What do you think?

First rule of business success is to be sincere. If you really care about how the other person is doing, give them time and talk about it for a little bit, about 5 to 10 minutes. If possible, don't add your wants to the first conversation.

Second rule of business is to state your purpose or premise for the call or visit in the first 30 seconds. So, if Tony was up front, he wouldn't have asked how I was. He would have acknowledged that he needed something without asking how I was. Executives, especially very busy ones, know you are calling for a reason.

Respect their time and get to the point immediately. You can end the conversation by saying, "I know you are busy but I really would like to catch up. What date works for you for lunch/breakfast/coffee/meeting?" Then, make that meeting all about THEM and nothing about YOU! At least you are being honest.

Tony's mistake was that he illustrated his insincerity right off the bat. He really didn't care what I was up to or how he could help me. He was selling himself on what is of interest to him and his perception of what would be important to me, a referral fee.

He only cared what I did as it affected him and what he needs. If Tony had gotten to know me further, he would have had one or two referrals ready to present to me that would help my ventures.

Tony assumed that we "have" a relationship because we worked together many years ago. Relationships take work. It takes continual reaching out to "check in" to find out more about the other person, not you.

Napoleon Hill, author of Think and Grow Rich, describes it best:

There is a great deal of wisdom in the old saw, "If you want friends, be a friend." Friendship means giving without expecting anything in return. Busy, successful people are not searching for new friends. If you want to be their friend, you must make the effort to befriend them. Let them know that you are interested in them as people, not in what they can do for you, and you may find that you have made a true and loyal friend.

When you are in a position of needing help, it is important that everyone and his/her brother know that you are looking for work, sales, and opportunities of many types. Timing, of course, is just as important. If Tony had allowed me the opportunity to finish my sentence AND describe what I'm currently working on, he would have heard about something that could trigger an idea that would have been helpful.

"Gee Pat, you might want to talk to Mr. X. Here is his email/telephone number. Would you like me to make an introduction?"

Boy, would I have been grateful. So grateful that I would have replied:

"Thanks, Tony. That would be great? Now let me ask you, How can I help you?"

That turn of the conversation, in about the same amount of time as the original discussion, would have given Tony permission to explain his new venture. Instead, I was left with a bad taste in my mouth, one that probably will lead me to NOT take another one of his calls. If Tony had given value FIRST and been SINCERE, I would continue to think of him any time an opportunity that matched his requirements.

If you want business or help, you must be giving of yourself FIRST. Not offer a reward (referral) for helping you only. Any time you offer perceived value or help first, 95% of the people will turn the table around to you next.

The Reverse Approach:

If your reason for calling is about you, you can reverse the above situation. Steve, another person I worked with years ago gave me a call to let me know that he was in need of opportunities.

"Hi Pat. I'm not sure if you remember but we worked together at xyz company. I wanted to let you know that I've been laid off and looking for opportunities in networking."

"I do remember you,Steve. I'm sorry to hear about your situation. Send me your resume and I'll see who I know."

"That would be GREAT. I see on your website that you are now doing abc. Can you explain a little further so if I hear of opportunities I can pass them your way?"

This conversation was the reverse: stating his need first. I respect that only because he acknowledges our lack of contact AND he did some research (via LinkedIn) AND he was genuinely interested in how he could help me. You heard the sincerity in his words, tone, and listening skills. Steve showed me respect and accomplished his goal of stating his need.

Napoleon Hill is right! Friendship is built over time by thinking of what you can do for them.

By : Pat_Ferdinandi

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