Tuesday, May 05, 2009

"Speak to me"

A few years ago I attended a networking lunch with the prime aim of meeting the guest speaker. As soon as he finished his talk, I approached him for a conversation and we sparked a friendship that continues to this day.

I sat back down at my table and talked to one of the other people present. Shortly afterwards, the speaker walked past our table. The person to whom I had been speaking looked up as he went past and pleaded under her breath,

"Speak to me, speak to me, speak to me."

She was desperate to approach the speaker but didn't feel confident enough to do so. I suggested that there was no reason why the speaker would want to come to a networking event and be on his own and I encouraged her to speak to him. As I left the event fifteen minutes later they were deep in conversation.

If you see someone you want to speak to or approach, do something about it. You may be pleasantly surprised by the outcome. If you do nothing, the outcome is really quite predictable.

This lesson was brought back to me last week. My co-author on my first book, Stephen Harvard-Davis, told a group of us how he was pleasantly surprised after he made an approach to someone a couple of months ago.

Stephen had been eating dinner in the restaurant at his Gatwick Hotel prior to flying out to Mexico for a speaking engagement. He noticed the former Speaker of the House of Common, Betty Boothroyd, sitting at the next table with a couple of friends.

Stephen has been a long time admirer of Baroness Boothroyd and wanted to show his appreciation for everything she has achieved. He asked the waiter if he would offer the Baroness and her friends a drink on his behalf.

"I was quite happy for them just to raise their glasses across the room", Stephen told me. "However, we ended up in conversation. Baroness Boothroyd offered me her business card and asked me to contact her next time I was in London so that I could be her guest at the House of Lords."

So it was that last week Stephen was given a tour of the Palace of Westminster and treated to lunch in The House of Lords by one of the most respected British politicians of the last 30 years.

The twist came at lunch. Stephen and Baroness Boothroyd were joined by two other very senior and well known politicians, one of whom was very interested in what Stephen does for a living and has invited him for a meeting to find out more.

The courage to approach someone, in an appropriate and respectful manner, was the key that may have left Stephen with a meeting that promises a huge amount for his business.

He could have just sat in his hotel at Gatwick and thought "speak to me, speak to me, speak to me."

No comments:

Post a Comment