“Success is when opportunity and preparation intersect. The opportunity is always presented through a relationship. Preparation solely depends upon you.” ~ G.E. Warren, author of No Regret! Living Your Life to the Fullest
The most appealing elements of business (at least for me right now) are innovation, connection and courtesy. I love the way today has the answer to yesterday’s problem; the way relationships drive every business; the way the values we learned as children still matter in our work. In fact, these are the elements that make our businesses attractive.
Think about it. Our clients want the smartest, simplest and most effective solution to their problem (that’s innovative). And on top of that, they want to be treated well and feel connected to your company. In addition to innovation, courtesy has a lot to do with with lasting professional relationships.
We understand, because when we’re on the other side of the counter we want the same things: innovation, connection and courtesy.
However, Innovative Networks Are Not What You Think
In Looking to Innovate? Expand Your Networks, our very own Anita Campbell highlights recent research that examines the impact of social networks on an employee’s ability to be innovative in the workplace. It turns out that the most innovative employees were not necessarily connected to the most “popular” people. In fact, the most innovative networks were connected to people who weren’t well connected to others at all. There are educated speculations about why, but the point is: Everybody matters.
Anita suggests that instead of “patronizing” or “brushing off” the new ones, the younger olds, the different ones, “Try picking their brains…Seeing things through someone else’s eyes can give you a new perspective on how to innovate in your company.” There is a key tool to this type of innovation.
The Importance of Being All Ears
In 3 Types of People You Want to Be, Diane Helbig makes the point that “there are three types of people that everyone wants to meet.” All are important, and being any one of them will make you more attractive to others, but the one that resonates with me is the listener.
Diane says, “People love to talk about themselves. When you let them, and you really listen to what they say, they will put you in a higher category than the person who is always selling.” I’ve seen it happen. In fact, I’ve left conversations with barely three sentences issuing from my lips, and the person I listened to felt connected and sought me out for future conversations and business.
Fully engaged and truly interested listening makes you attractive to others. Diane makes it clear that this is the first step to making it “less about what you sell and more about how you help.” She says, “Remember, people like people who are interested in them and who are helpful.”
“Please” and “Thank You” Make a Difference in Business
The biggest turnoff in business is a lack of gratitude. Yes, if someone is in charge, they can do whatever they want. In fact, that’s a human right that exists regardless of position. But attitude and gratitude matter if you are trying to be attractive business. And we are — after all, we want our clients to have an irresistible connection with our solution.
In Attitude and Gratitude—What Matters Most, John Mariotti says, “A little sign of gratitude makes a big difference. Just saying “thank you” to someone who has helped you—or to a group of employees who have worked very hard to get a job done—is a tremendous reward; much greater than you would think. Doing it with a smile is even better.”
I’ve spent a lot of time working with volunteers (and being one too) in all kinds of settings—theatrical, foster care, feeding the homeless, as well as ongoing relationships with varied communities of serious givers. What has amazed me the most is the time commitment they put in. Some gave week after week, year after year, in exchange for two rewards:
- The awareness of their impact
- A heartfelt “thank you”
In a volunteer setting with limited resources, often a “thank you” is all that you have to give. But what happens when you bring that attitude of appreciation to a business setting? What happens when you show your employees the kind of appreciation that you would show a volunteer? What happens when you show your dedicated clients the kind of attention and gratitude that you would show your most serious new prospects in anticipation of a sale? If it’s heartfelt and you have the right kind of people of on your team, then gratitude can be irresistible and build company and customer loyalty. Apple does it with their clients. We can do it with ours (and our employees).
John believes that attitude is the linchpin to your quality of life and business. He says, “If you have the right attitude, life will be much better for you.” Looks like “please” and “thank you” do matter in business after all.
It’s funny how the simple things – like kindness and listening — can ultimately make us innovative because we are in the right place to hear the creative ideas. These virtues are classic, and classic never goes out of style.