Learn and listen Featured

5:14am EDT January 31, 2002
Bill Troup got an early lesson in the value of learning a little about a client's business.

While Troup didn't have much interest early in his career in business banter with clients, he did have a genuine interest in their businesses. As a young accountant with an interest in science and technology, he found that if he learned a little about computers, he could demonstrate to a company's IT person that he had some understanding for the business and the problems.

A lot of it, says Troup, is knowing the buzz words and their meanings. He found that to be a valuable tool in forming relationships with clients, and the approach has carried into the present.

"If I show an interest in their business, they can teach me what I don't know, and I can teach them what I know," says Troup.

That may be one of the most valuable skills a business person can develop.

"People have a preference for talking with people who talk like them," says Bernadette Mihalic, president of Dynamite Coaching & Consulting.

Mihalic suggests to clients who dislike or feel uneasy with social interaction to take small steps to lessen the discomfort they feel during the course of business. Going to a networking event and simply observing or allowing others to do the talking or networking you while you listen can help make you feel at ease and more confident.

"The more you listen, the more you make people feel good about you," says Mihalic. How to reach: Dynamite Coaching & Consulting, www.dynamite101.com

Ray Marano