You get a Facebook friend request. You’ve never met the person, but you have a lot of mutual friends. So, you accept the request.
Within minutes, you get a message. Your new friend wants to set up a phone call. He has a business proposal for you.
That’s premature acceleration.
This person doesn’t know you well enough yet to propose. Sure, there’s a chance that it’s the best thing for you. But the odds are about as good as winning the lottery.
Relationship over. Was it good for you?
We were at a networking event, seated with two colleagues. A guy walked up, started speaking immediately without even waiting for a pause in the conversation, handed us all his business card, spit out his elevator pitch, asked for our cards, said he would follow-up, and then, went on to the next table to repeat this performance.
Only this is worse, on two counts – first, we had actually met him once before. He obviously didn’t remember it. We sure did because he gave the same performance! Second, he never followed up. Not that we would endure a meeting with him anyway.
Relationship over. It’s not him, it’s us.
As bad as these examples are, most if not all of us occasionally prematurely accelerate. Here are three tips to hold back your rush of enthusiasm:
Instead of focusing on what you’re going to say, focus on what they’re saying. Then, explore deeper.
One simple technique for doing this is to repeat what they said in a questioning tone. For example:
They say, “I just got back from a business trip in Australia.”
“Australia?” you reply with a higher pitch at the end.
This will naturally encourage them to talk more about the topic at hand. You learn more about them.
As you learn more about them, you’ll find ways to help them. But caution: Look for every way that you can help them, not just the ones you make money from.
For example, if they say they need a new accountant and you know a great one, hook them up. You can help two people in one fell swoop!
Another note is to go beyond the professional. When you know about their personal interests as well, it will make the relationship that much deeper.
Know how to describe what you do in a short paragraph. The secret here is to leave them wanting more. The best way to do that is to briefly mention who you help and how you help them.
Then, shut up! Pause. Take a breath. Make space in the conversation. Give them room to follow up.
If they don’t, it means one of two things:
They didn’t get it – Do they look confused? If so, work on your tease. Try other alternatives and see if your friends and colleagues get it. Work with a coach to perfect it.
They’re not interested – Do they look bored? If this is the case, they’re not a good prospect. But there’s even more information here – they don’t know any good prospects.
If they are interested, for themselves or someone they know, they’ll follow-up. Then, you’ll get an opportunity to explain a little more about what you do.
Share an example or two about how you’ve helped people. Then, respond to their cues, but be careful not to prematurely accelerate!
So, what do you think? We would love to hear your Premature Acceleration stories or how to avoid having one in the comments.
George Krueger and Mary-Lynn Foster are the co-founders of BIGG Success, your place for entreprenurturing(TM). They also co-host "BIGG Success in a Minute," a syndicated radio show now playing on stations around the United States.