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Global Relationships: Get into Their Space

Written by: Bill Sherman on Sunday, 6 April 2008, 5:51 AM

When you’re tring to build a new relationship with someone, it’s tempting to talk about yourself and topics you’re comfortable. That’s especially true when you’re meeting face-to-face with someone for meals or coffee in town.

However, if you’re trying to build a connection with someone in another state or across the world, you actually have an advantage because of the asyncrhonous nature of e-mail. You can use the downtime to get out of your comfort zone and into the other person’s comfort zone. Here’s an example.

We’re currently proposing a solution to a company that records land titles for counties within the U.S. I know a little about this topic. I have purchased real-estate, and I consulted for Wells Fargo Home Mortgage several years ago. Yet, I wouldn’t say I’m an expert in the topic.

On Friday, I used Google to search for interesting articles on land title. I found an article (published two days before) in Scientific American that described how Aztecs recorded land titles. The article was pretty interesting, and it was also current. So, I reached out to our prospect and said, “hey, I spotted this article in Scientific American, and I thought you might be interested.”

Within two hours, he replied back enthusiastically, and shared some of the history of land-title in Texas. It wasn’t just a short note, it was a three-paragraph story showed me a little-known corner of the world. He was excited to share his knowledge with me, because I’d shown him something interesting about his world.

I found a way to be relevant to him. I got out of my own comfort zone and moved into his world. He reciprocated by sharing part of his knowledge with me.

E-mail allows you the precious opportunity to research and sound smart before you reach out to someone. Not everyone will respond enthusiastically when you step into their world, but they often recognize you’re making an effort to connect. The best folks will reciprocate, and you’ll have developed your relationship a little bit further!

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