I have always prided myself in the contacts and networks that I have been able to create and maintain in my professional and personal lifes but compared to Tommy Spaulding, I am not even on the same playing field. Tommy Spaulding, former CEO of Up With People is the author of a new book: It’s Not Just Who You Know that includes a foreward from One Minute Manager author Ken Blanchard.
I was first introduced to Tommy by a dear friend and meeting planner of a previous association I managed until just recently. Tommy’s new book is a perfect topic for Annual Meetings and trade associations that are all about sales and business development. I jumped at the opportunity to hire him as a Keynote Speaker for the association’s next Spring Conference this upcoming April. Tommy is more than just your average meeting presenter; he has a positive message and a personality that is quite contagious.
His core message is that business is a transactional effort that creates contacts and promotes networking. What is different in Tommy’s tretise is that he believes that these personal and business interactions are more than just what I can give to you and what I can get back in return. He believes that these are life long relationships that can provide more than just an immediate sale or friendly telephone number. He writes in his new book that you should never burn your bridges because life makes interesting changes and turns and that the people you work with, meet and eventually succeed through can and should be there for as long as possible. Like any relationship you need to put some effort into the endeavor and through many life examples that he describes we must continue to develop these friendships beyond the normal pat on the back and annual Christmas Letter.
I have mentioned before that during transitional times that you do find out who your true friends are. It took much intraspective contemplation years ago to determine that unfortunately there are too many people that you run into over the years who are only friends or business associates because of your current position or what you can do for them. It is certainly a wow moment in life when you realize that once you are not in an influental position that some people are no longer interested in dealing with you. It is Tommy Spaulding’s belief that you need to base your relationship on more than transactional value and you must work dilligently to increase the value of those relationships.
Obviously we tap every person we can when we need an introduction or a nexus to a successful interaction but there is obviously more to life than the next completed deal. These are actual people behind the resume or roledex (remember what they were) and for a successful future we are all motivated by Tommy’s success to make more of these relationships than a ever-growing pile of business cards.
What is encouraging to me is that I will be spending some time with Tommy in the next month or two and I certainly will be using the opportunity to network but I will also find time to incorporate some of his success stories and take them to heart. He, as everyone else is more than an e-mail or telephone call. These are people behind their stories and it behooves us to determine why and how they succeed. There is more than the fascade we all construct and if we are to make some history we best learn from each other in a more meaningful way.