One of the key lessons I have learned in business and life is the power that comes from simply “showing up” on someone else’s territory and terms. No matter how much you may prefer not to go or drive somewhere or how much more convenient it might be or how important it might make you feel to have the individual or team come to you, there’s no better way of making a powerful impression – and acquiring valuable information – than appearing for a scheduled meeting at a designated time, be it at someone’s home or place of business, or a restaurant they particularly like.
Yes, it may admittedly take some extra time and effort, and intrude somewhat on your busy schedule, but the benefits can be incredible. At someone’s office, for example, you can see their family pictures and other mementos that will better enable you to engage them personally and “sound them out.” Such a visit will also give you the opportunity to get a feel for the culture of their company.
I’ll never forget one major buyer for a large retail chain who was very proud of his collection of golf balls, which he had on display everywhere. That gave me the idea of picking up unusual souvenir golf balls whenever I could, which enabled me to ingratiate myself to him in a manner that wouldn’t have occurred to me had I not paid him that personal visit.
Then there was the time I discovered that the vice president of purchasing for a very large casino holding group in Las Vegas was a closet Oakland Raiders fanatic — something I found out only by looking at the pictures in his office. So from that point on, I always made sure I had some interesting conversational points about the Raiders to bring up whenever I talked with him (which in Al Davis’s time wasn’t all that difficult.)
I could go on and on on about the things I’ve learned from showing up for meetings on other people’s turf. But the bottom line is: what such meetings can teach you about the individuals with whom you’re doing business (or hoping to) can usually be far more advantageous to you than whatever impression a visit to your own office or home might make on them. And if you’re punctual, that, too, will go far in scoring you extra points.
So if you’re still up to making new year’s resolutions, I’d recommend that “show up on their territory and their terms” be one of them – along with stifling that nagging little voice that keeps saying, “I really don’t feel like going” and ”why can’t they just come over here?”