Anyone who believes that connecting with and engaging in fruitful discussions with global businesses is easy either hasn’t attempted to do so or is confusing their erratic luck with finding the Holy Grail.   There are a number of channels which can lay a smoke screen around connections,

  • presence and connections via social networks,
  • contacts with insiders (who are often not the strategic players you need to be in favor with),
  • relying on your name presence as a success calling card, and
  • putting too much emphasis on what you have to offer.

While each of these may have ‘some’ value the reality is that unless the company has come to realize, on its own, that a particular value opportunity exists you are unlikely to make much headway in achieving your connective goals.  Each time I am presented with this challenge I try and not only place myself inside the  mindset of the company but also at the level of professional that I need to interact with in order to generate the business that I have in mind.   As is often the case, as you move up the ladder to to where you need stop and consider stepping one or two levels.  Why?   Simply the real decision makers are prone to consider the factors of internal recommendations as having value (since the person is putting their reputations behind it) and secondly they wish to confer they are dealing with someone/some institution that is of their stature.  The issue of stature is not by title, but is often in terms of understanding of their business… in other words you have done your homework. 

Image

I recently had the opportunity to deal with a European supplier of software products.   Even though it was an arranged meeting through our local company representative I investigated in detail the company, the principal and the services which had been provided.   As it turned out my representative was delayed, but the client was not.  To their surprise I was not only able to greet him and his wife but could engage a friendly discussion about how his background helped to shape his business and how the business emerged from humble beginnings to now being a formidable mid-size enterprise (for some pretty high end clients).   Making business personal, without having it be a tactic, requires genuine interest.  I really found it interesting how he worked his way through the ranks, the personal experiences he had and how he looked to the future.  Never once did I think about making a sale, pushing my agenda or having it be a rehearse exercise… it was all about getting to know each other.  If anything it allowed him, to ask lots of questions about us and respectfully we provided those key modest details (you know, the stuff that is in your ‘elevator speech’).  Thus we didn’t provide mountains of smartly crafted marketing literature and pamphlets we engaged in a dialog.  The upshot is that first and foremost we have an interchange on an equal level, and this permits us to trust each other and to see the power together as opposed to a relationship of a supplier to a buyer.

The big question that remains is how can this be done in the big companies, whether on the Forbes or Fortune list.  I believe that it has everything to do with the network that you entered and how you did so.  As with my example, this new colleague will share the experience with other colleagues and they in turn will do likewise…. its organic, efficient and often times envied.  Secondly, while the business basics still need to go on we must work hard to put the relationship first and not the sales pursuit.  This is not cheap but the durability of the event will be long lasting.  Finally, the type of involvement that you are seeking will dramatically effect how  you go about doing these things.  If you are selling a commodity it is a bit more direct than if you are selling foreign investment opportunities.  These take time, sometimes they can be leveraged through others whether these be venture capital institutions, governmental trade and mission organizations or key industrial leadership.  Take the time to understand what you are up against, understand the system that you must address, formulate a strategy and get independent opinions on its potential success…. then go do it!  Breach the iron curtain and make success for you and your partner company! 

Advertisements