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Getting To Know The Right People

Tips and techniques to meet the movers and shakers in an organization.

By Bryce Sanders

You’ve bought into social prospecting. You’ve joined the right cultural organization or been admitted to that really exclusive country club. You are on the inside. Now, how do you meet the movers and shakers?

Get help
Let’s assume you’ve done your homework. You know the people you want to meet. These business owners or professionals are major donors to the cultural organization you’ve joined. You know these people because of Goggle research, studying LinkedIn and reading the names of donors on the lists and plaques in the building. But cruising parties and reading nametags is time-consuming and random. You need help.

Most cultural organizations have a membership director and a development director, who are members of the paid professional staff. They usually attend every event. Get to know them, because they know everyone. Cultivation is their job.

How do you get introductions to the people you want to meet? Self interest isn’t the route. If you say: "Is Sam Smith here? I would love to meet him. He’s an 80-year-old property developer whose kids aren’t interested in the business. That’s an incredible business succession planning opportunity. I could make a fortune. Would you introduce me?" The answer will be no.

Focus on the philanthropic aspect. "Is Sam Smith here? You can’t pick up a newspaper without reading about another grant his personal foundation has given a charity. I would love to meet him and thank him for what he’s doing for the community. Would you introduce me?" The answer is likely to be yes. Does this staffer know what you are doing? Of course, he does. It’s like dating. Everyone is aware of what everyone else is doing, but there’s a procedure you follow to get what you want.

Private clubs
The country club world is different. People are in and out all the time, not assembling once a month for a museum reception. A former senior corporate executive shared a technique: You want to make friends with the club bartender and the restaurant maitre d’. Like the directors mentioned earlier, they know everyone, especially new faces. They can help by pointing out a new member and saying "You really want to meet (name), a new member and CFO of ( a company) who just relocated to the area. He doesn’t know anyone yet." They can also strike up a conversation with a new arrival and say: "You should really get to know (your name). That’s he in the booth. He’s very active in the club and knows everyone."

You can also cultivate staff relationships by getting to know staff members as people and establishing a first name relationship. Know the details of their family and their interests. Tip them well. It’s amazing the number of people who think that knowing staff members isn’t worth the effort.

Getting people to ask what you do
It’s a paradox. In the club world you don’t want to appear pushy, yet you want everyone to be aware of who you are, what you do and why you are good. Say you are sitting down and having a drink. Another person slides in beside you. At the appropriate moment you say: "It feels so good to sit down and relax. This is a really busy time of year in my business." Stop talking. If it’s April, he is likely to assume you’re a CPA and it’s tax time. He will probably ask about your job. You can correct him and explain why, in your practice, April is a busy month.

Remember the acronym TTTT, short for These Things Take Time. Raising your visibility is a gradual process that can pay off handsomely. People equate "pushy" with "desperate." The opposite of desperate is successful. By not being pushy, you are projecting the image of being successful. Successful people want to do business with other successful people.

Bryce Sanders is President of Perceptive Business Solutions Inc, providing HNW client acquisition training. His book, "Captivating the Wealthy Investor," is available on Amazon.

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