Thursday, May 18, 2006

Don't Be Afraid; Ask for the Business

Each month I get together with a couple of different business development networking groups. Members in each group are hand picked from different professional services verticals and are actively engaged in daily business and relationship development activities. When we get together we have a lot of new information, contacts, and opportunities to share with each other.

After one such meeting one of my attorneys who is also in the group, but new to developing relationship networks, asked me a question that caused me to pause for moment. He asked, "So if I hear someone in the group talking about a company or person I'd like to meet should I just ask them about (the company/person) current legal providers? The obvious answer is, "Yes."

He already knew the answer. What he was really asking was, "If I ask an obviously greedy question will everyone in the group still like me?" He was seeking acknowledgment and validation for wanting something out loud.

This is not so uncommon among attorneys, or among most business professionals; Imagining that it might be OK to be transparently hungry for more.

It is an American ethic taught from our youngest years. "Don't be so greedy!" "Give someone else a chance!" "If they wanted you to have it they would have given it to you!" "People will not like you if they think you're only out for yourself!" "STOP hitting your sister!!" (OK, the last one was mine...) We so learn the lessons of avoiding the appearance of greedy.

But in business there is a warm grey area between politely demur and greed. It's falls under the heading of "professional conduct". Among professionals it is OK to publicly seek to achieve goals with each other. It's OK to strive for an opportunity and ask the questions that bring the goals nearer.

In these little network meetings we are all hoping that through sharing, listening and asking we will both give and get. The giving is always easier than getting because the getting part feels so much like greedy.

I so totally appreciate the politeness of my attorney and his desire to not offend others. And I hope that he, and so many others can come to feel comfortable on both sides of helping others, and asking for help.

Go ahead and ask. That is what we are all here for; They will love sharing your desire to succeed.
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