We have a wealth of information at our fingertips. Our desktop computers, laptops, smart phones, and even watches can pull up information almost anywhere at any time on just about any topic within seconds. Even now, while writing this column, my wife and I had a text come through from a number we didn’t recognize, so I “Googled” the phone number and immediately found three different sites listing the owner, who was someone associated with a soccer tournament for our older son. With so much information readily accessible there is ZERO excuse not to be prepared before reaching out to people, going to events, or walking into interviews or meetings.
I work heavily with a number of leadership programs at our local universities. Before every event, I encourage students to reach out and ask the event coordinator for a list of attendees, especially the names of any business and community leaders, so they can do some research prior to attending. Even a listing of a few names allows students to search LinkedIn, Google, Twitter, Facebook, and other sites, to find information that will help them connect. Valuable information includes pictures (to identify the guest at the event), corporate titles and experience, along with nonprofit and community service and other passions. This knowledge and preparation gives students confidence and the power to connect with meaningful dialog. The truth is that everyone should follow this advice; so before going to your next event, do your homework!
Frankly, you’d be astonished at how many emails and phone calls we receive daily who blindly solicit our company without any basic preparation. It can be small things like misspelling a name or larger issues, like not knowing Lipscomb & Pitts Insurance is in the “insurance” business; but red flags automatically go up. Either way, when things start to seem off or awkward, it creates dissonance. The good news is that it can be avoided with preparation.
Proper preparation will allow you to effectively engage someone at the beginning and also deepen the conversation, once it’s in motion. For example, if you represent a nonprofit and know a company’s story, purpose, passions, and typical support levels, you’ll stay right on track with the dialog. Success is all about preparation, so do your research!