With the idea of sniffing out a new client or two, I’m hanging out at one of those social/professional networking events. I spy a tall man with a Harvey Specter haircut, velvet collared coat worth at least a year’s Living Wage – which for my cousins across the pond is about $15 per hour. Go figure.
We catch each other’s eye, kind of, standing by the coffee table. Turns out he is a materially successful investment banker seeking to spiritualize his mundane existence in a way to fit with commitments of work, family and social agenda. His words. Sounding like a recitation, from lips pasted into professional smile. Eyes darting left and right looking for…someone or something other than what is front of him right now. If you’ve shaken hands with a politician or movie star you’ll know what I mean.
‘So how do you find it?’
The eyes stopped for an instant. ‘What?’
‘Sorry?’ Eyebrows up.
‘The way to spiritualize the mundane existence,’ careful to avoid pinning said existence on to him personally as he starts the journey of graduation from potential to actual client.
‘Oh.’ I guess he wasn’t used to being listened to. ‘Of course.’
You know how it is: conversations that are in reality competitions for air-time, waiting for you to stop talking so I can start.
‘I just go with the flow.’ Eyes slide away into the tired old mantra alive and well since the Sixties.
‘Down the plug-hole, then,’ I observed.
Eyes front! Mental gear-shift in a moment of interrupted thought. I could almost see the picture on the screen of his mind. Then he said, ‘Well, I’m a surfer, so if I didn’t go with the flow I’d never catch the wave.’ Eyes start their slide to the side.
‘Yeah,’ said I who finally learned to surf standing up aged 68, ‘and if you did go with the flow you’d never get out past the breakers to catch that wave.’
He stared at me.
‘Think salmon,’ I said.
Now we have a relationship.
Just another way to catch a client. We believe we’re doing such great work that the world will beat a path to our door. Let’s show them the door. Even open it for them.
Moral: Pay Attention. Lie in wait. Pay Attention. Pounce. Pay Attention.