The final episode of AMC’s MadMen airs this coming Sunday and with it will close a look back on a workplace that when I started in the early 1980’s, only had echoes of the MadMen business culture of the 1960’s and 70’s.
Back in the day –- and it seems that I am using that expression ever more frequently, I used to pound the paved sidewalks and streets of Manhattan pitching myself and whatever service to anyone that would listen. It was a planned effort but hardly scientific. I would research (pre-internet!) agencies, companies and just show up. These were the days prior to security checks and I could spend hours visiting an agency and the various creative personnel. Getting business from those people wasn’t easy but by being there constantly, business opportunities arose simply because of my presence. I’ve already written about the value of being there in a prior post.
Yet something more was happening while I wasn’t paying attention. Without meaning to I was becoming part of the agency’s culture. I knew many of the people more than casually, like what they did outside of work, what they liked to eat and drink, what their favorite teams were etc. When we did business together, that familiarity came in handy as we worked together to solve whatever issue or problems there might have been perhaps because of trust built up over time and my experience with other members of their department.
Last week I had a meeting not far from one of our highly valued clients. I had something that I could have mailed or messengered over, but I decided to go old school and just drop by after my other meeting. While several people I see upon occasion recognized me, I did not see any of the people with whom I work regularly. I did get the feeling that I was part of their team and that was because I was in their offices enough to be viewed that way.
Obviously the old days of cold calling are not nearly as effective when it comes to pounding the pavement and ‘dropping by’ to see a prospect. But when it comes to being seen as a good partner to gain a better understanding of their business I suggest making it a point to be there regularly enough so as to have a feeling for their internal corporate culture. You never know what you might learn that can help make your efforts more effective just by showing up.
Here’s what I recommend; invite yourself to come in with an idea or two that might make a difference. You may find you’ll be more welcome than you think.