Business Principle II: It’s good to talk

First published 2012

Years ago, when I was in my first job, I supervised a sandwich student during his placement year. After he graduated he joined us full time. ‘Sharpy’ was quite a character. On the short side but made up for it with by throwing himself into everything – from work to the Maltesers reject carton when we toured the┬áMars factory in Slough.

He would also talk to anyone and everyone and I’m sure his Facebook page lists more friends than most. His LinkedIn profile is certainly comprehensive.

To cut a long story short, he moved to the States and he is now a VP at ARM, a high tech design and manufacturer of Computer chips. This no doubt is due to his hard work but also talking and Networking like mad.

They say that most good jobs are not advertised and it’s who you know, not what you know. By having a large ‘little black book’ of friends and associates, by being the first to buy a round or by bringing a wallflower into the conversation you will make friends and they will remember.

Be nice to everyone and make lots of friends at all levels from the cleaners to the Managers. Payback will come from unexpected directions.

When I had made a bit of money I decided to treat myself to a decent car. I don’t usually scrub up and the salesman at the BMW Showroom obviously decided I was a tyre kicker and I was in and out in 5 minutes. If he’d spent that 5 minutes getting to know me more rather than prejudging, I might have walked out with a Beamer rather than the Lotus Esprit that I eventually bought.

Going back to my first job, there was another Graduate who confidently informed us one day that one should always ignore waiters the first time they approach your table. We stared at him incredulously. Firstly because it’s terribly rude to anyone whatever their position in the world, secondly because by befriending him, you never know where it will lead (especially on return visits) and finally, everyone knows that one never criticises the service or food before it’s all been served.

No idea what has happened to him. Somehow I doubt if he’s a VP anywhere – unless Daddy’s sorted it for him. OK, so personally I’m not VP anywhere, but I do run my own show and talking to all and sundry has brought me many benefits over the years.

Next time: Make sure there’s a drink in it for everyone.

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