Article Summary: “Remember that the person you’re about to meet can become as important to you as someone you’ve known for years.” H. Jackson Brown, Jr., author of Life’s Little Instruction Book, could not have said it better. I can recall dozens of random and unplanned events where I turned strangers into new friends and clients, gained new ideas, or learned something new. Some of the events may seem small while others large. The question is, will you make the most of the interaction or will you let it pass on by?
SHOULDA, WOULDA, COULDA – 5 ACTIVITIES YOU REALLY SHOULD DO
Copyright © 2009. The Chief Storyteller®, LLC. and ThinkBusiness Magazine
Ira J. Koretsky
About three years ago, I was in a local retail store. While chatting with Mark, the friendly sales associate, he asked me what I did. For some reason, I hesitated and almost said, “I’m in the marketing field.” Instead, I faithfully delivered my elevator pitch (your answer to “What do you do?”). I piqued Mark’s interest. Instantly, he started talking about his challenges and difficulty in finding clients for his part-time art business. 30 minutes later, we exchanged contact information. A week later, Mark started drawing business cartoons for me. Guaranteed, if I responded with the typical “I’m in marketing” answer, the opportunity would have been missed.
“Remember that the person you’re about to meet can become as important to you as someone you’ve known for years.” H. Jackson Brown, Jr., author of Life’s Little Instruction Book, could not have said it better. I can recall dozens of random and unplanned events where I turned strangers into new friends and clients, gained new ideas, or learned something new. Some of the events may seem small while others large. The question is, will you make the most of the interaction or will you let it pass on by?
Here are five scenarios that occur to each and every one of us, if not on a daily basis, certainly weekly. Think about how you can maximize these experiences as they relate to you and your personal and professional life.
1 TALK TO THE WOMAN ON THE STORE LINE
If I had a dollar for every time someone shared a story about meeting someone on a line, I could retire now. Whether it is a line at the grocery store, waiting room at the doctor’s office, registering for your child’s soccer team, anticipating that delicious coffee, or listening for your name to be called at a restaurant, think about talking to the stranger beside you. Gauge the receptiveness of the person with a short, in-the-moment comment about something relevant to the situation you are sharing. Then see where things go from there.
2 MAKE THE TELEPHONE CALL
I read a long time ago in Selling Power to make THE call. The call is the one you do not want to make. You know… the one to the “challenging client” or the one where you will likely hear “no thank you” to your proposal. By making the call early in the morning, you significantly reduce your anxiety level for the rest of the day. And then, everyone benefits!
3 SEND THE QUICK EMAIL
Email is quick, easy, and painless. As a society we have become so used to email that you should be sending more to recognize people for their accomplishments and for their impact. There are so many reasons to send “that” quick email. Some reasons include birthdays, anniversaries, articles, ideas, links to a [blank] (e.g., website, newsletter, tweet, and blog), referrals, and updates on a significant personal or professional event.
4 ATTEND THE XYZ NETWORKING EVENT
“I’m too tired, I’ll skip this one” is an all-too common refrain. Instead, view networking as an integral part of your day. Make it part of your weekly routine. Attend breakfast, lunch, dinner, and social events throughout the week. Remember to view these as business blind dates… you may just meet your next best client or partner.
Make [networking] part of your weekly routine.
5 ALWAYS BE READY FOR “WHAT DO YOU DO?”
While the question asked is “What do you do?” the answer people are looking for is “What can you do for me?” Therefore, it must pique your reader/listener’s attention. Ensure your elevator pitch takes less than 30 seconds to say, is memorable, is easy to understand, and evokes a “Wow! Tell me more” response.
Do you remember the day your best friend was a stranger? Whatever that day was, it took time from the first contact to develop that relationship into best friend status. Now think of your best client, partner, member, employee, or board member. Someone initiated the first contact — created that first impression. Now that we are in the holiday months, parties and social events abound. People are generally in a better mood and more receptive to talking to strangers. Take advantage of every opportunity to create your own positive first impressions and maintain lasting relationships.
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Updated Content 2012, Updated header photograph 2019
Photography Source: U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Edward Holzapfel