Today I’m beginning a totally new blog series that will last for the next 26 weeks called “The A to Z of Business.” In this series, I’ll be taking you through what I believe are the most important things you should know, not just about business and entrepreneurship, but also about the importance of making deeper connections in your life. Deeper connections to your passions, your abilities and with the people in your life–everyone from your business partners to your family–and how those deeper connections can help you reach your goals.
To kick things off, I want to begin by talking about the advantages of showing up for meetings on other people’s territory. Now I’d like to elaborate a bit more on one aspect of this—the importance of always bringing along a gift. Now by that, I don’t mean a material gift, as that can cause an uncomfortable situation in many instances (although there are circumstances where small offerings might also be appropriate, for instance if the individual has a golf ball collection). But what I’m talking about here is a gift of insight, information or something the other party may not have been aware of or thought about. In other words, a heads up (which you can also do in a phone conversation or via an e-mail exchange).
Information gleaned from research papers are my favorite such “gifts,” something like, “Hey, did you see the McKinsey Report on Consumers and Sustainability?” But remember to always keep it relevant to the discussion or things that you know might interest the individual involved. Think about it this way: don’t you yourself prefer to talk with people who have something useful or interesting to impart—the conversational “givers”—and to shun the “takers”? Always try to be a giver.
Recently, I was told by a young executive that he had arranged an exploratory meeting with a vice president of a major company. I asked, “What are you giving him so he will want to meet you again?” He gave me a puzzled look. I explained that because he works for a prestigious firm, he gets the first meeting, but not necessarily a second one.
I would offer similar advice to readers of this blog: consciously look at your week ahead, think about the calls and the people you’ll be meeting, and what particular news items, links or reports you can share with them. My friend Bill Nicholson, the former CEO of Amway and one of the most successful people I know, makes a habit of clipping every magazine and newspaper article he thinks might be of interest to whomever he is going to meet, then hands them the stack of cut-outs. Today, I use mainly links and consumer research for this purpose. The point is: whenever you come on information, insights and thoughts that you think might be helpful or interesting to friends, associates or contacts you would like to cultivate, don’t miss an opportunity to share them. You might be surprised at how the recipients will give back—and the ways in which it will help your business and personal relationships blossom.