In her book “Zilch,” Nancy Lublin urges readers to “do more with your external people.”
She applauds universities for pulling off the cleverest tricks in branding as they’ve turned out legions of lifelong ambassadors that wear and advertise their favorite university “brand” whenever they go to the gym or when dressed casually on the weekend.
Everyone you and your business deal with is a potential ambassador. The core is the group of believers. Beyond employees, the core may include people who are financially or emotionally invested in your company’s success. This includes your suppliers, customers, partners, stockholders, community groups that depend on your firm’s charitable donations and nearly anyone else that comes into contact with your company’s products, services or brand.
The first step in energizing your ambassadors is to show you care about them. Kindness and thoughtfulness are not only good policies for life, they’re effective means of winning people over. When people feel consistently respected and cared for, they become more than the sum of their roles and responsibilities — you develop a relationship. They become stakeholders, fans and friends.
The best organizations display thoughtfulness and graciousness from top to bottom. When an organization treats its callers in a consistently friendly, helpful manner, it usually displays that attitude to all stakeholders. The speed and manner in which you respond to calls reflect how much you value and respect the person who is making the call. Today you cannot afford to underestimate anyone’s value.
This goes for how you treat your vendors as well. I worked for one employer who would not pay any vendor for 90 days. I worked for another that paid its vendors in 10 days. You can guess which company vendors would go out of their way for.
What are you doing to leverage your external people?