In a coaching call I had yesterday I was asked,”How do we communicate more effectively with business owners and executives? We’re constantly being sent back down to IT.” This is a common question and one worth commenting on. Language has a lot to do with it…
(I know, it’s the second gun picture this month…and yes, I do have one of these) If I meet a fellow handgun enthusiast,but I’m dressed in business attire, neither one of us knows the other’s interest. If the topic comes up and I throw out some keywords such as Kel-tec 380, NRA, or double action/single action (and actually know what that means when speaking of handguns), that person immediately recognizes me as a peer in that particular area of interest. It allows us to build a relationship around that area, especially if that person senses I know more about it and might have insight into their next purchase. Notice this purchase is not something they will likely delegate to their spouse or children.
In the same way, when I meet an executive or business owner, if I am reading the same books, the same papers, and understand the pressures and factors involved in running a business or business unit, they will pick it up by the words I use and the sound bites I provide. The questions I ask will be different, and my approach to meeting their need will be in line with their business needs. If I demonstrate a particular understanding in areas of risk or security, related to their data, I earn the right to advise them on liability and protection. On the other hand, if I talk about the features and functions at the level they look to IT for, I sound like IT’s peer, or worse, less knowledgeable than their IT person, positioning myself as a possible vendor.
So what are you reading to be relevant to business leaders? I read The Wall Street Journal almost every day, I study the trends of cybercrime rather than the features of products, I know who is stealing, from who, and with what. I know who is losing, who is winning, and the names of the ring leaders. I don’t know how to set up router security (except in theory), and to be honest, I don’t care. Your comments on books that are hot right now would be helpful to readers of this blog, so feel free to comment here! To get us started, I found my recent reading of, What Would Google Do? to be thought provoking, business relevant, and interesting to those I speak with.
© 2010, David Stelzl