Recently I found myself nursing a sugar high from a plate of salted caramel brownies and engaged in a vigorous discussion about the rough and tumble world of the chocolate industry. You see, a big chocolate convention was in town and I had just learned that there was trouble in Candyland – many of the well-known names in local chocolate were not planning to participate. In my head I imagined Baby Ruth and all 3 Musketeers engaged in a “Beat It” style rumble (only with less Jheri curl juice). Wouldn’t it take something that dramatic to cause industry leaders to sit this one out?
Nope! As usual, it is the little things that matter the most. The leaders behind the new convention hadn’t taken enough time to build relationships, focusing more on their sales pitch than gaining trust. There were no hard feelings about the event, it’s just that no modern day Willy Wonka wants to risk a stellar reputation on an untested newcomer. More conversation and familiarity could’ve made all of the difference between an unknown commodity and an exciting new player. A little sweet talk might have resulted in a sweeter deal.
Too bad that lesson wasn’t learned by my former colleague. Every time I see his name on caller ID I know that I’m going to hear a tale about some AMAZING new “business opportunity” (in this scenario, opportunity is a synonym for “way to lose your money in a pyramid scheme”). There’s never any sweet talk – no happy birthday messages on Facebook, no coffee meetings, and no touch base phone calls – just a clumsy sales offer straight out of some manual, followed by my very uncomfortable refusal and a half-hearted closing remark about staying in touch. Trust is the key to productive business and personal relationships, and he hasn’t put in any work to build a foundation for trust so that I can believe in his intentions.
So that’s what it all boils down to. Whether you call it sweet talk, friendly conversations, touching base, networking, or business updates, trust requires repeated connection beyond the singular pursuit of one person’s agenda. That trust then opens the door for all kinds of new and cool opportunities. Sweet, huh?
Tell us – how do you “sweet talk” the people in your network?