When I was in business school at UCLA, I had a professor (Jen Aaker, I’m looking at you) who was also the advisor for my field study project (the B school equivalent of a thesis). Her emails to our field study team always started something like this: “Hi. Enough small talk.” She was my people. We got each other.
Fast forward twenty years and I find myself living in Birmingham. I get a phone call from my now-partner, Joe Sandner III, who says he has heard about me from some of the brokers working for him and he wants to have a cup of coffee with me. My former-lawyer brain starts immediately calculating how many tenths of a billable hour a “cup of coffee” will take because I have things to do. Nevertheless, I agree and end up leaving the company I had worked at for fifteen years to join Joe and Colliers. Why? Because as Joe has taught me, “people do business with people.” Joe took the time to come see me and give us a chance to get to know each other. In turn, I felt comfortable leaving my familiar environs to try something new.
Now I live out this advice on a daily basis. I am out meeting with clients, prospects, and industry colleagues every single day.
Joe’s corollary to “people do business with people” is “pick up the damn phone.” While I pride myself on my ability to draft a thorough and understandable email, I have seen the wisdom of picking up the phone and talking to someone to quickly work out an issue or get a question answered.
Finally, Joe has taught me to say “let me pick you up.” It is so much easier to schedule a lunch meeting when you offer to pick up the person you are meeting for lunch. This is especially true if the person you are meeting has to park in a parking deck at their office or if parking is scarce at your destination. And, it gives you and your lunch partner additional time to discuss whatever is on the agenda for that lunch. Just a simple touch but now a permanent part of my business etiquette repertoire.
So, get up from your desk and go see your clients. Pick them up. Take them to lunch and really listen to them. And thank Joe on your way back to the office.