The core of any good business relationship is being able to talk to others. REALLY talk to them. Not just about transactional stuff, or about the weather, fashion or football. But about the business, organisational or personal things that matter to them. Because if we can engage at this level, we find out so much more about what they might need. Unfortunately, some are either oblivious to this level of operation, or think that they do it already so don’t need to bother. For both, here are three things that will assist in preparing the ground for a productive interaction.
Lead, structure, collaborate Good discussions don’t usually happen by accident. Nor passively can we expect clients or contacts to make the running (“If she wants to talk about that sort of thing, she will”). It is up to us to initiate and sell the need for it e.g. for a ‘review of how things are going with you’. Once done, we need to take further initiative by proposing what needs to be discussed and get their buy-in to this by sending an agenda for input.
Canvass – inside and out So if allowed, do some people tip up to the meeting totally unprepared? You bet they do! After all, this isn’t paid work is it? It’s far less important. Except that if they mess up, the consequences could be, ahem, interesting for future work streams. All it takes is a quick search for the latest on what has been going on in their world, and a few calls or emails to relevant colleagues to get their views on current issues.
Bring an IDEA What can differentiate one organisation and individual from another? In practice, very little. One thing that people say consistently that they are looking for is advisers (or perhaps colleagues too?) who are proactive and give them insight. So from the work done by canvassing, find an idea to bring to the party that will be of value to them.
James Newberry is a coach and trainer who helps professionals and other specialists exert more influence….and enjoy it! Have a look at http://www.peoplescope.com to know more.