Archive for December, 2009

“Give”: A four letter word that can open many doors

There is a four- letter word that can open doors to CEOs, Vice Presidents and other senior executives of companies. That word is “Give.” Since we are around Christmas time, I think this is a very appropriate topic. We often hear that the spirit of the Christmas season is to give rather than receive. In business, it doesn’t just sound nice to give; it is simply the best way to receive something back.

When people start in business, they’re always looking for their break, that chance, that first lead, first contact or contract. Often they seek this first break through other established individuals or companies. The attitude of most individuals when they seek out the company to help them out is to expect something. But the problem is that most people often forget what they themselves bring to the table.

I made that mistake myself when I started in business. I started to send e-mails and phone calls to established companies to ask them to consider partnering with my one-person company. Of course, I didn’t tell them that at the time I was a one-man show, but the script would go something like “Hi I’m so and so, president of SciMetrika, LLC and I would like to be considered for collaboration with your company on future bids.” I started to focus on other minority business-owners like myself. I was fortunate that one of them picked up the phone and called me back.

Here are his words in as much as I can remember them: “Jean I got your message about wanting to collaborate with us. Here is how the game is played. We have this table and we have food on the table, you’re asking us to invite you to the table. But what are you bringing to the table?”

This was probably the best lesson that I had received so far in business. I wasn’t thinking of what I was bringing to these already established businesses. What could I possibly give them? I was simply looking for one of them who might have too much work or had to subcontract because of some government requirements to hand out the work to me.

This conversation that I had so many years ago has had a profound impact on me. It has forced me to focus not on what I could get from other business associates or companies but on what I could specifically bring of value to the table. This affected my approach to finding partners in two ways: a) focus on the partners that would also benefit from an association with me and b) forced me to identify what it was that I was going to give in terms of contribution that would be considered valuable.

So, what can you bring that’s valuable as a one-person company or a more junior partner in a business relationship? More than you can think. Every business values leads, new business contacts or new markets that they have not entered in. If you have been in an industry long enough, you are bound to have some contacts, know of some projects, or some piece of information that can help someone in that bigger company (whether the CEO, VP of Sales or manager) to either bring revenues or perform his work better.

I stopped years ago going to these conferences or networking events where small businesses are falling over themselves trying to press the hand of someone at a bigger company who can help them. It may work for other for other people, but for me I realized early on that it was a waste of time. Instead, I have preferred to associate myself with companies and people that could benefit from associating with me or my companies; companies that I could give to, so they could give in return.

Even to this day, I continue to give. However, I don’t necessarily expect that the favor will be returned. Of course, I don’t waste my time with organizations or people who have shown that they are simply happy to receive and will not reciprocate. But in terms of net value, I know that in the end by taking the approach of focusing on “giving” first instead of trying to get something out of a business relationship, you will come ahead.

Here are a few thoughts on how to give effectively so you can get something back:
• Focus on companies or business associates that you bring some value too. This may mean business or individuals that you complement their offering or customer space as opposed to overlapping either
• Find out the needs of those you want to associate with. How can you offer something of value if you don’t know if it will meet a need?
• Time is precious. A lot of senior executives and even companies don’t have the time to give their due diligence whether it is to research a customer space or investigate a deal. Pay your dues by doing the homework for them.
• Instead of asking to be given a part of a deal, offer to help win the deal
• If you can’t think or articulate of what a business partner will get from associating with you, it’s not worth it for either of you. Move on.

December 15, 2009 at 5:39 pm 1 comment

Leaders don’t need a title to lead

Leaders don’t need to be appointed to lead. Leaders lead. Leaders take initiative. Leaders galvanize people around an action; convince them to go outside of their comfort zone to accomplish what needs to be done. As Tony Romo, the quarterback for the Dallas Cowboy said recently, “Leadership is doing what has to be done”.

Continue Reading December 12, 2009 at 4:41 pm 1 comment

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December 2009