Guest Blogger, Monica Murray of caratt coaching reflects on the power of leveraging all of our relationships.
Mixing Business with Pleasure
“How can I help you?” – This phrase floored me. It was 16 years ago, and I had just started my business at the time. I had reached out to a former colleague, a senior Human Resources Director and well respected business woman in the corporate community. We met for coffee and she listened intently as I described my new venture as an executive recruiter wanting to build a company and practice that was different from the competition. Near the end of our time together, she said 5 simple words: How can I help you? I wasn’t prepared for that. SHE wanted to help ME? Wow! I felt buoyed by her very generous offer. Yes, she was a business colleague and my objective in the meeting was to start building awareness of my company – but I actually didn’t think in advance that she would utter those words.
Which brings me to my point. WHY was that such a unicorn moment? Why do women tend to keep their relationships siloed? Aren’t we multidimensional? Isn’t there a way we can connect in different ways to help each other? I’m guilty of it. My book club (17 years and going strong) is in the ‘personal’ category. We keep our conversations around our personal lives and the book (and wine). And yet, the book club is made up of very accomplished (and strong / kind / generous) women from all sorts of business (medical, biotech, fintech, communications, finance, architecture, law). Perhaps it’s because we were taught that you never mix business with pleasure or that women tend not to ask for help in business (particularly for themselves).
Opportunity Breeds More Opportunity
A good friend made this observation when she watched her husband and his business dealings. His friends were his clients and his clients were his friends. In fact, the more they connected and communicated the more opportunities there seemed to be. When I think about the type of people I want to work with, the characteristics are ones that describe my friends and people I trust. Soooo . . . connecting the dots . . . see where I’m going here? If asking someone for something seems too daunting, try being on the other end. Ask your friend or book club member or workout buddy if there is anything you can do to help them.
Asking Doesn’t Mean Asking FOR business
Remember, the ask isn’t about becoming a client or ‘buying what they are selling’. It can be a simple step to help them move forward. Maybe it’s an introduction to someone, maybe it’s a proofread of their new website content, maybe it’s listening to a practice round of a business pitch. Perhaps the ask is something you can’t fulfill. That’s OK. You are not a bad person. As women, we tend to be givers. But sometimes that’s just not possible. Thank your friend for even asking you (it might have been awkward for them to reach out in this way) and be open to receive future asks for other possibilities.
I say we start to expand our asks to the vast pool of resources we already have. When I consider how I would react if someone in my circle asked for a business request, I would happily explore how I could help them. In fact, this blog was the result of “book club meets business”. Thank you Kim Jakeman for asking.
About the Author
Monica Murray is a CPA, CA with a 25 year career in a variety of roles and industries including serving on several boards as a passionate advocate for diversity and gender equality. Her current company, caratt, coaches executives, professionals, entrepreneurs and their teams. Tailoring a practice of coaching and consulting, she works together with her clients through inquiry, action, and reflection, helping them as individuals and teams achieve excellence in their business.