The Power of Who You Know
“Who should I say is calling?” the assistant to the TV network producer curtly demanded.
“This is Paul Lawrence. I’m the executive producer of the International Sketch Comedy Championships, which I produce with the Laugh Factory,” I responded.
“Please hold,” the assistant said with some skepticism in her voice.
A moment later, she was back on the line, apologizing for the wait. She explained that her boss was in a meeting but would call me back. I thanked her. As promised, the call was returned later that day.
This powerful television network executive had never heard of me. So how did I have enough clout with her to get my call returned?
I used a power technique called “Allied Power Linking.”
Although she didn’t know me, she most certainly knew of the Laugh Factory, an important player in Hollywood. And because of my alliance with this club, some of its muscle was automatically linked to me. The result was a return call from an influential executive who might not have even gotten my message, much less called me back, had I not used this technique.
“Allied Power Linking” is a powerful tool. But, as with any power, you have to use it carefully so it doesn’t backfire. Here are some tips to keep in mind when employing this technique.
• Don’t lie about who you are in business with.
I could call the president of a major film studio and say I’m Donald Trump’s business partner. If the call is perceived as legitimate, a return call would certainly be made.
But before that happens, someone in that president’s office is likely to try to verify that I am, indeed, Trump’s business partner. And if it comes to light that I am misrepresenting myself, the following would happen:
1. It would kill the possibility of ever getting a meeting with the studio president or doing business with his studio in any way.
2. There’s a good chance that I would get contacted by Donald Trump’s legal team.
• Be certain that the person you reference is agreeable to being portrayed as your ally.
Before you start dropping his name, you want to make sure he’s okay with it.
Assuming you share the same goal, there probably won’t be a problem. But your powerful ally might set some parameters regarding how you represent your mutual affiliation and to whom. For example, there may be certain people that the ally would prefer you didn’t contact because of previous dealings he’s had with them.
• Be sure that the name of your ally will be meaningful to the person you’re trying to reach.
If I call a senior buyer at Wal-Mart and let him know that my cousin Ernie, a busboy at a local deli, is my business partner, that’s obviously not going to help me. But there are times when it’s not so easy to figure out how valuable it will be to use a particular name. Since you have only one chance to make a first impression, do your research.
When I called that Hollywood producer, I knew that the Laugh Factory had several business deals with her network. And I knew that many of its star performers also had deals there. So I rightly assumed that this ally link would have a lot of leverage.
Even if the ally has no business dealings with your target, if they are well-known in the industry – or at least well-known to the person you’re trying to reach – dropping their name is almost certainly going to help you.
• Don’t overestimate the power boost.
Sure, mentioning a powerful ally can help you get a foot in the door. But don’t make the mistake of wielding their name like a weapon. Never threaten the executive’s “gatekeeper” with something along the lines of, “If you don’t put me through, you’ll never work in this town again.” Politely reference your ally and hope that it will be enough to achieve the results you’re after.
If mentioning your ally’s name doesn’t help, it may be that you’re trying to use it at the wrong time or in the wrong situation. Still, you might want to reevaluate just how much power that ally can really deliver for you.
The entertainment business is certainly not the only industry where you need power behind you just to get a call taken by an assistant, let alone returned by someone with the authority to make a deal. This is a challenge faced by every entrepreneur seeking to build a business and develop potentially lucrative partnerships.
Knowing how to identify and use the right “power sources” will make the job a whole lot easier.[Ed. Note: “Allied Power Linking” is a very effective tool, and must for success in today’s business world. Get 8 more secrets to instant business power with Paul Lawrence’s audio program.]