I’m sort of on my own page when it comes to building business relationships. Meaning, I like to get to know people before I do business with them. I tell them my story, try to find out theirs; tell them a random story— see how they react.
That annoys some people.
They want to get to the point; talk numbers, metrics whatever the buzzwords are now.
I don’t think it’s wasted time— for me to work with you, to associate this brand that I’ve dreamed of, sweated and sacrificed for— requires trust and knowing that we see life, not the same but through the same lens.
Here’s An Example
I had a business meeting last week to get to know a brand that’s fairly new to the home gym space. They’ve got an innovative product; more of a tweak to an existing service but still something that fills a hole that nobody else is filling.
It’s an interesting enough concept that I reached out through private message on Instagram and asked for a short meeting.
Our meeting was on Zoom. Great app for video conferencing by the way. I’ve liked Zoom ever since Jerred Moon of Garage Gym Athlete turned me on to it when he interviewed me for his podcast. I prefer it mostly because I like to see the people I’m talking to.
Unfortunately, during this meeting, the brand owner didn’t’ have the video on for our meeting so I couldn’t see his face and couldn’t gauge his visual reactions to what I was saying. All of the nonverbal cues I prefer were missing.
See, their product is new and still in the testing phase. I don’t know them, don’t know whether they are really familiar with the home gym space. Whether they’re here to truly improve things for home gym owners or they just see an opportunity to make a quick dollar and move on.
But I’m also in the information business. So this meeting served not only to let me know whether or not I want to establish a business partnership with them, but also whether or not they might be a good fit for an interview so YOU can get to know them and decide for yourself whether you trust them with your hard earned dollars. So I went with Plan B.
I kept our conversation mostly centered on telling stories. I asked about how they got involved in the home gym space, we talked about an issue with the height of the ceiling in the business owner’s home gym— it’s a low ceiling and his training partner is 6’4” so overhead movements, especially with a barbell can be interesting. I threw in a few seemingly random observations about home gym ownership to see if this is a passion for them.
I’m constantly aware that in any interview situation with a business owner, I’m standing in for every home gym owner who might one day spend money with this person so I ask the questions that you may never get to ask.
I wanted to know not just if they understood business, but if they understand the problems faced by home gym owners. That’s important if this is going to be one of our business relationships going forward.
For example, if you’re going to market a product to me that’s supposed to help me with my home gym I’ve got one ironclad litmus test that let’s me know if you have any street cred. And it’s got zero to do with what you’ve done in other areas, or other business ventures. Want to know what it is?
You’d better be pretty damn excited to talk about your home gym and home gyms in general.
Truthfully, I probably come across as a rambling, unfocused mess sometimes in these meetings but I’m okay with that. Because it’s not just about making money for me; it’s about improving this community and adding value in a way that nobody else is and I have to trust that anybody I’m in business with, regardless of how popular they may be on social media or how impressive I find their resume, is focused on that same goal.