Some of you might remember the 1970s Smith Barney commercial starring the famous actor and producer John Houseman. This line, which he delivered at the end of the commercial, will be remembered for generations to come, not only because of his brilliant delivery, but also because of the profound message it carried:
“How do they make money? The old-fashioned way…they earn it.”
This line has been on my mind for the past 4 days for some reason, perhaps I heard it repeated somewhere, so I took that as a sign that it was time to write about it. Here’s why:
We live in an era of instant gratification. No, this phenomenon did not start with the development of the Internet, Web 2.0 and Social Media. Generations ago, we were introduced to products and services that made busy family lives much easier. Parents didn’t have to cook so long. They didn’t have to take clothes out to the river and beat them on rocks, although I’m still not sure how they got clothes clean by beating them on rocks. They didn’t have to rely on a switchboard to connect phone calls…etc. In case you didn’t know this, microwave dinners, or TV Dinners as they were called, were not left here by Noah when he parked the Ark after the flood. They are an invention many of you were alive to witness.
Just like today, time was not standing still, and neither were progress and the desire for efficiency. Human beings were hooked on shortcuts, and so were the brilliant minds who were wired and educated to develop these products and services. I love those people, and their minds!
My modern-day application of this hunger for efficiency lies in how we conduct business. We want phone systems that connect to our customers and clients before we even pick up the phone. In my Time Warner days, they were called predictive dialers. We want laptops that are lightning-fast so we can have 50 tabs open at once on our browser and not experience a slow-down…guilty as charged! We want phones that either allow multiple apps to be open at once, or are so fast and smart that they begin to think for us. We want CRM, or Customer Relationship Management, systems that organize all of our contacts and related data to make doing business more predictable and successful.
You and I can think of hundreds of developments that feed our desire for increased efficiency and speed, but one we can not ignore discussing is the desire of many to develop relationships with little or no work involved.
There is a process to developing relationships with those with whom we would like to do business, or those we would simply like to call friends. It’s called building trust. The steps to building trust aren’t the same for everyone, or for every two people, but what I do know is that it takes time. We must earn it.
We can not expect others to trust us enough to give us their business from the first moment they read our names, see us speak, watch us swim by in their Tweet Streams on Twitter, see us across the room at Business After Hours, have a friend introduce us when we stop by their table having lunch at Ruth’s Chris, and so on. We must earn it.
The process of developing relationships is made easier by the tools we have been given as gifts today, called Social Media. They can help make the process of building relationships quicker, easier and unbelievably more targeted than it was only a mere 5 years ago, but they can not do it for us. We must earn it.
We’re all busy. Some wish this process of attracting clients would just go away so we could do our work. No, I’m not one of them because that’s part of what is fulfilling to me in my business; building relationships with my clients, and helping you build relationships with your clients. But we do owe it to ourselves, and to those who could truly benefit from our work, to take time to find and get to know people, to listen to them, to talk to them, to care about their needs and their lives, to learn what it is that is on their minds. In other words, we must earn it.
My final thought for you is the line preceding John Houseman’s famous quote in the commercial:
“Why in the world do they work so hard? Because Smith Barney knows that old-fashioned hard work is often the difference between getting stung or getting a taste of the honey.”
Go get your honey, but, by all means, expect to work hard building the relationships to get there.
As always, your thoughts and comments are greatly appreciated.