This is a question that I often ask myself ahead of a meeting. Try to avoid having to ask yourself the question half way though a meeting though.
The Apprentice candidates on the BBC demonstrated brilliantly, the other week, how you can have a very busy diary, having wonderful conversations…… but with the wrong people. People who probably understand exactly what value you bring to a situation and would advocate change and the implementation of new products or services, if only they were the decision makers or influencers in their business.
Always do your research. Understand the type of business entity that you wish to engage with. Know the internal hierarchy of decision makers and drivers of change and don’t fill your time having conversations with the wrong people.
Networking and business development is a skill and not one that comes naturally to everyone. Understanding your product, services and company is great, just as long as you know how it is likely to be interpreted by the recipient. You know what you are selling and how the jigsaw fits together, but they don’t. They are very unlikely to be on the same page as you at the point of first contact and will most likely appreciate you remembering that fact.
I am approached on a daily basis by companies and individuals offering products and services, many of whom assume that I know who they are, what they are selling, what value that they could bring to me and how we might work together. How wrong they are. Opportunities are invariably missed because they have assumed that I have worked out what I am missing and have started to look for it, which of course I haven’t. So when great solutions come along that solve challenges that I didn’t know existed or create opportunities that should be grasped and maximised, a mutually beneficial result is rarely met. It does sow seeds though and chances are, I will then seek solutions and have a parade of suppliers to choose from.
So, know who you are talking to and get to the right people, never assume that they know who you are or where you fit in their processes, clearly explain the big picture but make your point clear so that it resonates correctly.
If you want to sow seeds, get a packet of runner bean seeds as May / June is about the right time to start.
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