We’re stumped. Just standing in a circle staring at each other.
So my colleague pulls out his phone and calls the head of our town’s forestry department.
The guy answers his phone, answers our question, and we finish our meeting.
I stare at my colleague slack-jawed.
He gives me a quizzical look.
I tell him that I’ve just witnessed the best definition I’ve seen of a Trusted Advisor.
This guy is never more than a phone call away from the answer to any question he’s asked.
That’s how he gets things done.
He has key people’s cell phone numbers – and they answer his call.
He is amazingly productive.
Of course, it takes some time to get to know and trust people at this level.
Here are three things you can do today to start becoming a Trusted Advisor:
1. Ask Experts
Call people to ask them questions.
Not frivolous or rhetorical questions, of course.
But if you have a question in their area of expertise, give them a call.
In fact, don’t just call one person. Call several who may know the answer.
The ones who get back to you and can help are already on the way to being valuable members of your business network.
Remember that people love being the expert.
They won’t think you’re a bother or annoying if you call with a legitimate question in their area of expertise.
And since none of us knows everything, the best we can do is to know who knows.
While the rest of us were stumped, my colleague thought of someone who could help, and called him, right then and there.
Trusted Advisors ask for help.
2. Do Projects
You don’t really know someone until you’ve worked with them.
We’ve done plenty of work with our town’s forestry department.
It wasn’t a surprise to him that my colleague was calling.
We’ve given him quite a bit of work, we’ve helped him with his work, and he is very generous with us.
What I’m saying is, this isn’t their first interaction.
They have a history going back many years.
He’s not the only forestry guy we’ve ever worked with… he’s just the one who’s been consistently helpful and accessible.
He’s reliable, and friendly, and knows his stuff.
You don’t know that when you first meet people.
It’s only after working with them for a while that you can develop that trust.
Trusted Advisors work with other people to develop trust.
3. Think Connections
Thinking of connections is a skill – just like any other.
We’re taught in school to do everything ourselves, so thinking of people who can help doesn’t come naturally.
But that way of thinking is a key part of becoming a Trusted Advisor.
You won’t know every answer, but if you know who knows, then you can add value to almost every interaction.
The next time you don’t know the answer to a question, think of someone you know who would know.
That will make you a Trusted Advisor.
Who do you call when you have a question about computers, or marketing, or plumbers, or after school programs, or … ?