Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Avoid Foot In Mouth Disease

Nothing will short circuit an important business relationship quicker than introducing a professional colleague (or someone from your network/community) to someone else and not fully understanding what it is that they actually do. Though the person you are just introducing your colleague to will hopefully have no idea you bungled the introduction, rest assured your colleague will and it can and will cause some serious damage to your relationship. Likely to the point of never being able to recover it!

I attended a function yesterday where I had the unfortunate pleasure of witnessing this happen first hand. A sales representative whom I know brought someone over to introduce them to me. She started off by saying "Steve this is my good friend BLAH BLAH and I just had to introduce you two. BLAH BLAH does X and is one of the best in the business. At my former company she was the only one I ever used for Y and we are about to start using her here at the new company."

Someone quick get an egg.....we have a face!

Blah Blah's expression completely changed from one of open friendliness to one that showed just the growing fringe of major annoyance and quite possibly a side of violence.

"Actually....I haven't done that in nearly a year. I now do Duh Duh Duh," Blah Blah arched with a marked edginess to her tone.

Obviously it was an uncomfortable position to be in but I tried to save the day with a welcoming tone, acknowledging smile and a firm handshake. But as you can imagine the damage was done. Blah Blah wasn't interested in me or my work at that point. No, all she cared about was getting away from "her good friend" who didn't seem to know her well enough to know she had changed careers some time back.

I won't go into further detail as to how this sales rep dug herself in a deeper whole by acknowledging that she had no idea she had changed jobs and did she (brace yourself) think that her knew company would need what she the sales rep was selling.

Idiot party of one!

Let's just say that the temperature in that place turned a modest -31F and you could call the time of death on that relationship (what little there appeared to be in the first place). No amount of mouth to mouth or mouth to ass is going to save that one!

My point is before you ever make an effort to introduce someone make sure you know the lay of the land. Take some time to reengage and catch up before you start introducing them around. Make sure you don't ever "oversell" someone as a good friend, colleague, customer, etc. if they clearly are not. The time you take will help you from catching the often fatal foot in mouth disease!

One last thing....and I think this is a great advice if I do say so myself. If you are going to be hanging around people you know and there is a likelihood you will be put in a position to introduce them around, then ASK THEM HOW THEY WOULD LIKE FOR YOU TO INTRODUCE THEM. Simple. Easy. Straightforward. Oh yeah....and smart! Trust me your stock in their eyes will go up tremendously because you took the time to care!

Until next time....

Ripple On!!!

Steve Harper

P.S. Don't forget to check out our Ripplehead IPOD contest from Monday's BLOG post.


Carlon Haas said...

Good post, Steve. Makes me wish I had gone to that particular function. But these things happen when you're constantly thinking of "the sale" rather than "the person".

Cory Garrison said...

Steve, I've been on the receiving end of that introduction recently. Carlon makes a good point. And to add, sometimes they ARE thinking of a person...themselves! This lesson is not necessarily about good's about good character! Excellent Ripple!