Business

I’m Not Your Friend

I freakin love relationships.  I love people. So why the title? Why the post about not being your friend? Let me paint a picture. (This is the part where if this was a movie it would do a ripple fade to another shot).
It’s a normal Tuesday, early afternoon.  You are just getting back from lunch and diving right back into the project that you had to take a break from. As you look up, you see a mountain of emails filling your inbox, and out of the corner of your eye you see a coworker coming over to talk to you about an issue they wanted your help with.  As all of this is going on, you hear a faint noise coming from your right… its the ring tone of your office phone. You don’t want to be a jerk and ignore it so you reach over and pick it up off of the receiver.
As you greet the other person on the line with a hearty hello and your name, what comes next isn’t unusual, but it is jaw dropping.  “Hey Paul, this is so and so from blank company.  I know its been a couple months or so since I last reached out, so I figured I’d call to see how everything is going and catch up.”  Like I said, not unusual, but it is jaw dropping.
All of us have experienced this, and some of us, myself included, are guilty of doing this jaw dropping action.  The exact words we use ourselves, or hear from the other line, may be a little different, but it all amounts to the same thing.  We have no relationship but  would like to shoot the s#!t and burn 15 of their minutes idly chatting.
Again, I am 100% about relationships, but I have begun to see the importance of being selective with those relationships and who I share my time with.  It’s also not that I don’t want to form new relationships, it’s just that I don’t want to idly chit chat with someone who is a complete stranger.
Whenever we call, whether it is a friend, and especially if it is a new contact, call with intention.  Call with a specific, not general, question in mind and if you can hear stress and frustration in their voice, give them an out.  I know this may seem counterproductive to sales, but if you are always calling and idly chit chatting you are not only wasting their time, but yours as well.  The strongest relationships I have, have started  over the simplest things, but those conversations where had with intention.
Remember, I’m not your friend, at least not yet, so please don’t pretend that we are.  Start calling people with intention and I promise those relationships will form.
Community

Pump The Breaks And Listen

I’m pretty sure it’s a universal law that we all love the sound of our own voice… I mean I know I do.  I love hearing my sweet sweet tumbra as I drone on about things I’m passionate about.  As true as this is, I also realize it is the worst thing for me to do to build relationships and really be able to share in people stories.
I have recently been challenged to shut up and listen, and I’m doing my absolute best to heed this advice.  Side story: One of my greatest fears is to have silence in a conversation. I mean I literally used to pray Proverbs 29:25 “Fearing people is a dangerous trap, but to trust in the Lord means safety” over and over again as a mantra.  I would pray that over conversations saying to myself that it is dumb to worry about silence or lack of conversation, and that I could trust that the Lord would bless our time and make it beneficial. I still deal with this fear to this day.
Back to the post:  I have had some great advice given to me that I believe will help me conquer the above mentioned fear and make me a better human being, father, husband, friend, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.  To put the advice simply, it is to ask an intriguing question and to shut up and let the other person talk.  If I really want to go one step further, it would be to take a vow of silence for a day, or at a networking event, so I can give the other as much runway as they need to talk.  One last thing that I have started doing is bringing a little notebook and pen that I can jot down thoughts that come into my mind so I don’t have to interrupt.  Please, if we ever have the opportunity to talk, hold me to this.
A couple questions to end on.  Are you a fellow interrupter? Do you equally love the sound of your sweet sultry voice? If so, take up this challenge and start to listen more. Lean into the silence. Create better questions.  Learn to listen, actually listen, and give the other person the gift of hearing their own voice / talking about themselves and what is interesting to them.  When you give them this gift, it’s actually quite amazing how much you learn about them and figure out how you can both benefit from the relationship.
Business

Why Should You Connect With Others?

The other day I was talking to a friend when he called me a networking machine.  This was after I mentioned to him that I was grabbing ice cream with a friend at work who was retiring after 43 years of working at the good ol’ Tip Top Poultry.  My initial response and the one that is screaming in my brain as I am thinking about this conversation is “I love people.”
I can’t help it, I have an insatiable urge to connect with others and share a little bit in their story.  I want to get to know them for who they are and to see how we can connect.
Over the years I have learned how to dial down the intensity with how I passionately pursue people. (Ahhh the alliteration is abundant.)  It has been tough, but dialing down the intensity has served me.  I have come to realize that not everyone is as social, and people may want different types of relationships for us then I may be thinking.  All of this is ok, it just allows me to use a little emotional intelligence as I get to know others.
I mention all of this because I want to challenge you to get out there and connect with others. I know that may not be your thing, but life is infinitely better together.  Connect with others how best works for you.  You have amazing insights and experiences to offer others and you are not done growing yourself.  Please, do us all a favor and love on people how best works for you because I can promise yo  u one thing if you actually do just that, this world will be a better place as you connect with others and show them that community is all around.
Business

Why Empathy Matters

Why does it even matter for us to empathize with others?
This past year I had hip surgery. I knew the recovery would take time and be difficult in some aspects, but until I was going through it, I didn’t realize how hard it would be.  For two weeks I couldn’t drive and I never imagined how giving up that freedom could be so life altering.  I hated having to rely on others for every move I wanted to make.  There is so much freedom that comes with a car, and I now fully understand that.
Not only could I not drive for a couple weeks, but I also have a semi constant numbness and pain that I feel in the area around my surgery, and when I do certain movements there is a flash of searing pain.  Now I have not taken pain meds since after the third day of surgery, but going through this experience has helped me understand how people could take those meds longer than they should.  It would be so easy for someone to have this little bit of pain and want it solved through pills.
Since this experience, I can better empathize with others around me.  What I have come to realize is that most of the time we only no a small part of someone’s story.  Before we decide to judge or make a decision about someone, we really need to hear what is going on in their lives.  Showing empathy will further endear you to those you are in a contact with and is a great way to build a foundation that could eventually lead to a great connection.  If you want to build a strong relationship and show someone you really care, it starts with a massive dose of empathy and realizing that we are all in this together.  If you truly want to succeed in business, this is one of those foundational things you need to work on.
Business

Why Personal Brand Is So Important: People Buy You, Not Your Company

I have a friend who works for a large carrier and has absolutely been crushing it. Recently, she got a promotion and has already been making waves and getting stuff done. Now why is all this important? You’re about to read why.
My friend has been in the supply chain and logistics world for a bit and has built up an amazing reputation which I can personally attest to. I was thrilled when she said she was moving into a new role, yet also a little sad because it meant that she would no longer be in charge of my account. Now that she has been in this new role for a couple of months, it seems my feelings of sadness are not exclusive to me.
As we recently connected over the phone, she mentioned a few customers had requested, on pain of losing their business, that she stay as their rep. This is huge! Why, because it clearly shows that people are buying her, not her company.
You need to realize that when you are selling something, that people are buying you and not your company. Oh… and by the way, no matter who you are and what your position is you are selling something. The company’s name and reputation may get you in the door, but it certainly won’t close any deals for you or keep customers.
People are buying you and the experience you are giving them. NEVER… forget that.