When I left the cubicle at age twenty-three and began business development work, I began activities taking me far from my comfort zone, but deep into my interest zone.
My role was to get business for the company. I was calling on architects, engineers, contractors, and developers. I visited them in their offices, invited them out to lunch, attended association meetings, set up a booth at conferences, and hosted plant tours.
I had no experience with any of these activities. I had never had a business card or a briefcase before this. I did have a beginners eagerness to learn.
My Boss, My Mentor
My new boss, Mr. Pike, saw something in me that gave him confidence that I could fit into this new world.
He shared that he had been hesitant to put his slide rule down and meet and greet people at my age. He taught me some techniques that had worked for him. One was to get people talking about themselves. Another was to volunteer to be the photographer for an association, which got you around to meet people briefly, and then you moved on.
A third was to have the attitude that we were involved with a constant low key long term promotional effort. We were not trying to force our way into any situation. It was not high-pressure sales. We wanted to be invited back in a consulting role.
He gave me a list of engineers and architects who were friendly toward our company, and I began visiting them just to introduce myself. That was a nice way to ease into later making calls on firms who didn’t know us, and that was the point of my job. We were building awareness and interest among the architectural, engineering and contracting community.
On My Own
Soon, I was off on my own, hunting for business.
As I drove, I listened to cassette tape programs by speakers like Zig Zigler and Brain Tracy.
I went to the bookstore and the library and found books on business manners and professional dress.
I attended a workshop on business etiquette and protocol hosted by an architect’s association.
After five years, I left the precast prestressed concrete business and entered the construction equipment field. There I had seven sales reps and four office people working for me. I was traveling with the reps, doing some training, and hosting large dealer meetings.
Now I was the person who was attempting to model good business manners and practices and looking for people to hire who I saw something in that gave me confidence they could fit into that world.
These are mine.
- We don’t always have the knowledge needed before we take on a new role. That’s fine if we are willing to do the work to get up to speed.
- It is helpful to have someone to mentor us.
- Eventually, we will be a mentor. Take that opportunity seriously.
What are your take-a-ways? You are invited to comment on the Facebook page for The Break Out Session.
Let’s continue to explore ways to increase our confidence, connection, and professional presence so that we can achieve more, faster, with less stress.