There is the old business adage that says, “it's all about who you know.” It's nice to know the “right” people, but what is more important is “who knows you”. As a business owner building relationships with the right people is extremely important. I'm sure you will get plenty of advice about having a good relationship with a mentor, an accountant, and an attorney. I'm going to tell you about two important relationships with the “right” people that are often overlooked.
Administrative and Executive Assistants
One thing I discovered early in my career is that ninety-nine times out of a hundred, the assistants are the lifeline of the organization. They know everything going on in the organization, including important meetings, events, and management changes. They are the best source of information about the decision-makers: spouse's name, children's name, personal and business schedule, interests, what mood they are in at a particular moment, and how they like information presented. If they like you, they can always find time in the bosses schedule for you.
While you are sitting waiting to meet with a client, engage their assistants in a casual conversation. Commit their name to memory with correct pronunciation and always use it. Ask them how their day is going? If they have plans for the weekend? If they tell you personal information, remember it even if you have to write it down. This relationship is important to your success with that organization.
Peon in the Cubicle
Usually the people with “power” have important titles like “Vice President” or “Director”. Getting to know the people with power is important. However, do not overlook the people with no power” but have plenty of influence. Each organization is different, but usually some peon sitting in a dark cubicle in the back of the office with no title is the one that makes a recommendation to the people with “power”. Treat these people with the same or more respect as the people with power and they will be puddy in your hands.
Speaking as a former peon in a cubicle in the dark corner in the back of the office for the government, people who treated me with respect received glowing reviews to the people with power or I would move their documents to the top of my pile for environmental reviews. To all the people that treated me like a peon, I took the full amount of time allowed by law to review their information.
While I only discussed two relationships in depth, it is important to treat everyone you meet with respect. When you exchange business cards with someone, write on the back how you met that person and any information (personal or business) they give you. You never know when that business card and that relationship will come in handy in the future.
Veronica O. Davis, P.E. is a Co-Owner of Nspiregreen, LLC, which is an environmental, urban and sustainability company located in Washington, DC. We specialize in helping clients identify their existing condition and create possible scenarios for the future.
Website: nspiregreen.com | Twitter: @dizzyluv25