“Did you do your homework?” my militant mother, a teacher by trade, would respond to my request to hang out with friends. Without a “yes” you did not pass go, nor collect $200. Rather you went directly to homework jail as work preceded reward. At the time, I despised her ridiculous rituals that restricted my freedom and fun. Years later, I appreciate the habit and discipline she instilled to do your homework first. After all, this practice provides the fastest path to creating genuine business connections.
Truth be told, we all want to do business with people we know, like and trust. We all want to spend time with individuals who make us feel important and validated. With jam-packed days, we no longer can afford to waste our time, nor energy, with people who are takers or show up unprepared. Doing your homework first boosts connection by showing respect as a result of your research. The good news: Your homework has never been easier.
In fact, gathering information on someone through their company website, LinkedIn profile, social media sites or the latest apps, requires such little effort there’s no excuse anymore for lack of intel.
How can someone trust you if they can’t trust you to invest time to show up prepared? Sales people, for example, must know their client, the company and their pain points — possibly even who they’ve done business with before, so they don’t ask lame questions or waste the prospect’s valuable time. Your call productivity will go up as potential buyers recognize your research upping your credibility and trust.
Savvy networkers do their homework first so conversations with those they choose to cultivate a connection with get off to a comfortable, positive start. Having done your due diligence, you come across as interested, rather than trying to be interesting.
Rather than fear coming across as a stalker, simply say, “Out of respect, (or out of respect for your time), I always do my homework before connecting (or meeting someone I’m interested in knowing). The article you wrote on X intrigued me because….” Or, share any cool takeaway you uncovered. Perfectly okay to bring up subjects outside of work also such as, “Turns out we’re both Chicago Cubs fans!”
Need an appropriate thank you gift for a business client? Once again, doing your homework pays. Finding out someone has a weakness for chocolate or gives generously to a charity can make for a memorable, personalized, show of appreciation. Again, showing you genuinely, not generically care.
Whether you’re calling on a customer, attending a networking event or conference, or simply taking part in a conference call, do your homework first to create a lasting impression and stronger connection.
Determine a connection you need to cultivate and gather three interesting facts that align with individual’s position, passion or purpose. Create an opportunity to share with this person at least one uncovered fact within the next 15 days to up your connection quotient.