Monday, February 11, 2008

The Three Most Important People

Whenever I do business with any company, I make it a point to meet the three most important people. These are the people the really know what is going on within the company every day. They have the most direct knowledge of daily activities and long term corporate strategy. When you go into any business, as a consultant or employee, make sure you meet all three.

The first is the most obvious. This is the person that signs the checks. Make sure you meet whomever it is that signs your pay check. Get to know them and establish a rapport. Chances are in a SMB environment this is also the business owner. From this person you will learn long term business strategy and the overall direction of the organization. By getting to know the owner of the business you will also get a good picture of the future of the company. If the owner is smart, dynamic, organized and passionate then chances are the company will go far. If the owner is lazy, arrogant and any other combination of negatives then you know what's coming.

The second person to meet is the individual responsible for cutting checks. I think you recognize the pattern so far. Basically, it is important to be friendly with the people that make sure you get paid. Before I became a consultant I always made it a point to be very friendly with the folks in the HR department. By getting to know the person that actually creates your checks you will get an idea for company finances. Is the company playing smart and safe with their money? Are they spending wisely or are they throwing money away on expensive office furniture? By becoming friendly with the person that writes the checks you will be able to learn the financial status of the business.

The third, and in many ways, most important person to get to know is the janitor. By this I mean whoever's job it is to clean up at night. This is the person that will tell you everything about the people in the office. For some reason, most people never speak to janitors, but they are an amazing resource for information about the people in a company. They know everything about everyone and are usually the best source for office gossip. They can tell you what coffee brand the director of marketing prefers, or they can tell you the gatekeeper's favorite flowers. They are knowledgeable about all the personality quirks of everyone in the office. By forging a good relationship with the janitor you will learn about potential allies and troublemakers.

By knowing these three primary players in any business you are in a position to have an inside track. The Check Signer will know about company strategy, long term plans and current goals. The Check Writer can talk about finances, spending, investments and cash flow. The Janitor knows the personalities of everyone at work and he will also know their secrets. By forging alliances with all three of these people you will gain a sizable advantage in any business environment.

R-Squared Computing - Business Technology Experts

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