Monday, June 29, 2009

Big Time

I have a friend who play bass in a Country & Western band Jeremy Johnson and the Lonesome Few that tours throughout Oklahoma and Texas. They often open for bands traveling through the area, and so he is able to meet other musicians from well known bands.

He remarked that the one thing he hated was when a famous musician would 'big time' him. Being 'big timed' is when you are talking to someone who constantly looks over your shoulder to see if someone more important or something more interesting is going on. Essentially it is a brush-off.

This struck me as a vivid example of a bad behavior we see in business as well. You might be at a trade show, or even working at your retail shop - a customer or employee comes in and while you are talking with them, your glance travels over their shoulder to whatever else is going on. It may even be unintentional, but they notice.

When I used to do quite a few trade shows, one of the skills you needed to learn was how to quickly qualify a lead (someone entering the booth), and disengage with that person and go on to another. Otherwise, you'd spend all your time with the first person and you'd miss ten others.

Interestingly, if you made a conscious effort to concentrate on the person at hand, then said thank you and moved on to the next person, it was faster and better than if you sort of paid attention to the first person while looking over at the second. People understand you are busy - what people want is to be treated respectfully.

As an entrepreneur, you are besieged by issues, people, and items to consider. If you cannot learn to quickly qualify the importance of a given issue or person's problem, you won't be able to get anything done, and/or you will be considered rude. It is easy to pay only partial attention to the issue at hand, but that is a mistake.

Next time you have three things going on, and someone - employee, customer, incubator manager - comes up to you asking about something, ask yourself, "am I big timing this person?"

If you can give the person your undivided attention, you may just hear something that may become a new feature, or another sale or resolve a customer issue.

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