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Did I Really Know Him?

When I was in college, my maternal grandfather passed away. While he was not great with kids, I did spend quite a bit of time with him. As one family friend put it, I was “7 going on 35.” So, he found me to mature enough to have around.

He taught me to play chess, and it was a jubilant day when I was finally able to beat him once (after hundreds of games). He would tell occasional stories and introduced me to tonic water, when I asked him what it was (blah!).

After my grandmother passed away, I spent a week each summer with him for a couple of summers. He typically went out to eat, because he did not really know how to cook. However, we took on the adventure of cooking together, as I had already learned the basics. The results were not too bad.

Unfortunately, I was not able to attend his funeral. My college was seven hours from home and there was not enough time to make it home. After the funeral, my mom sent me the obituary in the newspaper. While I knew he had worked in the office of the Luger Meat Co., I did not know he had been the president until I read the obituary.

This was particularly frustrating to me, because I had chosen to go to business school without really knowing any business people. And my grandfather had been a business person, a president no less, and I did not know until after his death. It really made me question whether I really knew him or not.

Now, I do not think he tried to keep it from me. Maybe he did not think I would find it interesting, or he just never thought to tell me. Or, maybe he thought I knew and was never interested enough to ask more about it. In truth, I would have loved to learn more about what he did since I was pursuing a business degree.

This is a common problem I find with business owners and professional service providers. They tell someone what they do and expect they will remember, in detail, what you do and be sure to ask for more details when they have a related need. Unfortunately, that is not the way it happens.

People are living their own lives, running their businesses, dealing with their current challenges. Until they make a deep connection with what you do, they can easily forget what you do or not really understand it at all. That is why it is important to stay in front of prospects and remind them of how you help people (e.g. case studies or stories).

It even happened to me. One of the people I had been in a small business group with for 4 years went out and found another marketing consultant to help with her business. When I asked why she did not ask me for help, she said that she did not realize that is what I did. This was after we met monthly to talk about our business challenges. I was shocked, but it really opened my eyes.

If you meet someone who is a good prospect, but is not currently looking for your services, be sure to figure out how to stay in front of them. Be helpful, be authentic, and be sure to be top of mind. This will dramatically increase the size of your long-term pipeline.

This is message #16 in 21 Days of Authenticity. If that would like to receive the rest of the 21 Days of Authenticity via email, please click here to sign up

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