Let's face it; everything in business has something to do with relationships. So my question…
Take the Time to Learn a Location’s ‘Rhythm’ So Your Business Can ‘Dance the Dance’
What would you say if I told you I believe that each city has its own ‘business rhythm’ and that it is our responsibility to learn and understand what that is in order to work efficiently across locations?
I’m sure you have experienced how a holiday location like Cairns or Byron Bay seems to be just that little bit more laid back. But I’ve often wondered if that was just because I was feeling a bit more chilled, or in the case of Byron because I was back where I grew up?
Two months ago, I relocated from Brisbane to Toowoomba on the Darling Downs of Queensland. It was during the adjustment period of settling into my new location that I figured out there is a certain cadence and rhythm that comes with each town and city. Just like dancing it takes a little while to learn the steps and to slot into the new rhythm.
Like a growing number of my Small Business colleagues I am becoming more and more location autonomous, meaning, my work with clients sees me travelling all over Australia. I don’t need (nor do I want) to be tied to an office, a desk or one location.
The challenge in this style of business though has been learning not to bring my business rhythms to a business relationship and expect they will fit a new client.
This struck me the other day as I was boarding a train in Sydney to meet with a client on the other side of town. It was the back end of peak hour, and the throng of people lining the station in the city was not unlike a horde of ants swarming over a sugar cube. As I waited with several hundred eager to depart passengers, I felt a shift in energy. A train would arrive, people would push and shove to try and secure a spot before that train would depart, and another would replace it.
I stood back, waited and watched four trains come and go before I figured if I wanted to make my meeting I would need to either abandon the train idea for an Uber or become a little more enthusiastic about gaining entry to the next train and move with the rhythm of the crowd.
Once I surrendered to the flow of the people around me something weird happened, space opened up, and one stop later so did a seat. The trip was smooth, I arrived with time to spare, and the meeting was a complete success for everyone.
The lesson in my realisation is this: Just as humans communicate differently, have different incarnations, phrases, body language, so too does a city.
The next time you visit a client in a new town or city take a few moments to follow these suggestions and notice the pace set by the people you’ll be interacting with:
1. Pause and observe.
Arrive into a new town a day or two before. Take that time to hang out and absorb the energy of the new place, spend time in cafes people watching. Observe the pace at which they walk, the speed at which they talk and how they interact with each other. This will give you great insight into the people and the area.
2. Allow the client to set the pace.
So often we feel the need to arrive filled with answers and advice. Instead sit back and allow your client to set the pace of the conversation. They may spend the first meeting getting to know you as a person, passing the time with small talk and gauging your fit as a potential supplier, or, they could be straight down to business. Allowing them to set the agenda and pace though gives you all the information you need about the rhythm and cadence of the person you’re working with.
3. Respect your boundaries.
Understanding the pace and flow of locations, businesses and people allows you time to check in with your feelings to make sure it is a mutually beneficial fit for all involved. No matter how good the deal looks on paper if something doesn’t sit right with you then you need to soul search how much you need the deal.
As more and more of us work remotely, understanding how to set the pace, and learn the rhythm of the areas and businesses you’re working with will elevate your business dealings and help you learn the steps of the ‘dance’ with greater ease.
“The opinions expressed by Smallville Contributors are their own, not those of www.smallville.com.au"
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