This post is part of our Weekly-ish Tips series.
I did something unconventional a couple of weeks ago: I called Dave, who I’ll characterize as “possible client” for simplicity, in the middle of the day on a Sunday. We’ve never met and haven’t exchanged more than a couple of emails in the last couple of years. Dave was so struck by my reach-out that he dared me to write about it*. So here I am.
Here’s a little background on the Dave situation, and what led to my phone call:
That brings us to a few Sundays ago, when I was determined to clean out my email inbox before a new work week began in the new year. I started to write Dave an email reply when I decided it would be way less lame—and considerably more personal—to pick up the phone. I checked his email signature for a mobile number and dialed.
He didn’t answer, so I left a voice mail basically saying, I know it’s Sunday and I know this is odd, but it just somehow seemed like the right way to reconnect, and of course there is no obligation to call me back ever, let alone today. I then sent a text message with the same basic content.
My phone rang a few minutes later. Turns out Dave was in the middle of cleaning up his kitchen after making a messy batch of Cuban pulled pork while also watching football with his youngest son who was returning to college the following day. He called me anyway. He teased me for doing crazy things like calling people I don’t know on a Sunday, and I teased him about being crazy enough to call back. We had one of the most delightful conversations I remember having in a long time with anyone. We laughed a lot, which is always an instant connector. And we connected even more deeply when we learned that we both lost a parent in 2021.
Just as we were about to hang up, Dave circled back to my unconventional call and the power of doing unconventional things in business relationships. He and I are both firm believers that “all business is personal” and we have both witnessed first-hand how that indelibly shapes the world of professional services.
For those of you thinking, well sure, there was a happy ending in this case because Dave’s clearly a great guy, you’re not totally wrong. But you’re also not totally right. Personal risk and trust go hand in hand; the riskier the move, the more trust you’re likely to build. That applies to the super nice guys out there like Dave as well as the crankier ones.
Of course it’s possible that a less gracious person might have seen my Sunday call as an intrusion and written me off for good despite my carefully worded voice mail and text. But then I’d be freed up to invest my time and nonconformity in the Daves of the world. And that’d be a beautiful thing, because it’s precisely these kinds of interactions that keep me fueled, optimistic, and believing in the power of personal connection.
*For the record, I counter-dared Dave to write something in his own blog about his experience of our exchange.
Make It Real
This week, look for an opportunity to reach out in an unconventional way. Dare to make a more personal connection with someone than you ever have before. What do you discover—about the relationship and about yourself?
Read about four ways to make your client reach-outs stand apart, or brush up on the relationship between trust-building and risk taking in Chapter 9 of The Trusted Advisor Fieldbook.
Your move, Dave.