Friday, July 06, 2007

Be somebody's first friend

On May 7th, 2003, I received an email that changed my life.

“Scotty, I love the nametag idea! I actually wear a nametag all the time too – it’s part of my sales training outfit. Anyway, I hear you want to become a speaker. Give me a call. I think I can help. Sincerely, Jeffrey Gitomer.”

Of course, I had no idea who Jeffrey Gitomer was.

So I checked out his website.

At which point I learned he was a:

1. Bestselling author.
2. World-renowned speaker.
3. Super successful sales trainer.

And two words ran through my mind:

#1: Wow!

#2: Why?

Here was this big shot author/speaker. Why would he be emailing ME?

AND, why would he be offering to help?

So I called his cell phone.

“Hey Jeffrey! This is Scott Ginsberg, The Nametag Guy.”

And the next five words out of his mouth were:


(Actually, those weren’t his exact words, but if you’ve ever read his books before, you can imagine what they were…)

Anyway, Gitomer started telling me all about National Speakers Association.

“You’ve gotta join! You’ll fit right in! In fact, I’ll introduce you to some of my friends, get you hooked up and hang with you at the upcoming conference.”

And that’s exactly what he did. Everything he said he would.

Of course, that was only the beginning. Over the years he would come to become a great friend, colleague, even one of my mentors! (Ahem, see the pic above where I'm BEATING him in Pacman. Thank you very much.)

Not to mention I would become highly involved in National Speakers Association as a board member myself.

All because Jeffrey decided to stick himself out there.

One simple act of approachability that changed a prospective member’s life:

Be somebody's first friend.

As a member of any association, this is your duty. You owe it to yourself, to the organization and to the prospective members to be somebody’s first friend.

For three reasons:

1. Comfort. New members don’t know anybody. They’re pensive and curious. You need to observe and act upon that in order to lay a foundation of comfort. This frames the guest’s experience as welcoming and approachable. And people never forget that.

2. The Halo Effect. Once someone sees that YOU are friendly and welcoming, they’ll associate that same attribute to the association as a whole. You don’t need to be a leader to be a leader.

3. Reciprocation. Think back to the last time someone was your first friend. How did it make you feel? Do you still keep in touch with that person? If so, great! If not, this is your chance! Take an active role. Being someone’s first friend is the perfect way to pay it forward.

Ultimately, this act of approachability is about first impressions. That of you AND your association.

And you don’t have to extend this invitation to every prospective member that walks in the door; nor should you feel obligated to mentor anybody either.

It could be as simple as saying hello or buying someone coffee. Hopefully, though, it will always be about developing a lifelong relationships with new colleagues.

Either way, you’ve got to stick yourself out there.

As Mother Theresa once said, "People won't remember what you did, they won't remember what you said, but they'll never forget the way you made them feel."

Go be somebody’s first friend.

In your professional association, who was your first friend?

Share your story here!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag

Are you the luckiest person you know?

Watch Scott's interview on 20/20!

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