I’ve been holding on to this article from Success magazine for some time. And now wanted to share it …hope it opens many doors for you my friends!
Harvey Mackay knows nurturing your network is the No. 1 habit for creating and sustaining success.
(Liz Davis September 30, 2009)
When speaker, author and CEO Harvey Mackay walks onto a stage to deliver one of his trademark talks, people sit up and pay attention. His good-humored interest in the topics at hand—and, more important, in the audience—comes across loud and clear. Within the first five minutes, everyone in the room is buying whatever Harvey Mackay is selling because he demonstrates one of his own most fundamental sales maxims: “People buy from other people because of likeability.” It’s no wonder Toastmasters International has named him one of the top five speakers in the world.
Never mind that Mackay isn’t really selling his audience anything. Instead, he gives them a lifetime of organized, practical business wisdom, targeted to the group’s specific needs. And his wisdom has resonated with readers, too, with five best sellers and more than 10 million books sold. Two of his books, Swim with the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive and Beware the Naked Man Who Offers You His Shirt, were New York Times No. 1 Best- Sellers and listed by the Times among the top-15 inspirational business books of all time.
Preparing to Win
Harvey Mackay was born and raised in Minnesota’s Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, where he still makes his home with wife Carol Ann. His father was head of the Associated Press in the Twin Cities for 35 years and was partial to aphorisms related to happiness and success, which he posted on the refrigerator. Mackay continues that tradition in his weekly syndicated column, which runs in 52 newspapers nationwide. Each motivational article ends with Mackay’s Moral, a compact, thought-provoking statement about some aspect of success.
Mackay attended the University of Minnesota, with no inkling that he would one day head up a multimillion-dollar company or write best-selling business books. “At the time, I thought I was going to be Ben Hogan,” he tells SUCCESS. When he found himself up against the nation’s best young golfers at an NCAA golf championship his sophomore year, Mackay realized that he was in way over his head. The competitors from warm states like Florida, for example, had been playing golf year-round for much of their lives, while Mackay could only play golf for about four months out of the year in Minnesota’s colder climate. So even though he’d been playing golf for as many years as some of the other players, they had about three-times more cumulative experience. Those players were simply better prepared. “So I gave up that dream and became an entrepreneur,” Mackay says. In his 1997 book, Dig Your Well Before You’re Thirsty, he wrote that preparation is “a way of life for anyone who wants to succeed in any activity.” The lesson he learned as a 19-year-old golfer about the importance of extensive preparation and practice was one he never forgot.
After graduating from the University of Minnesota, Mackay had a slow start as an envelope salesman for Quality Park. But he was still an excellent golfer—good enough to convince the Oak Ridge Country Club in Minneapolis to admit him without the steep initiation fee (after a protracted sales pitch). In return, he would help the club get out of last place in the Minneapolis City Golf League. Mackay made so many business contacts playing golf at the club that he would later write in Dig Your Well Before You’re Thirsty, “There’s no question that this was the one single act that most helped me launch my career.”
“People don’t care how much you know, once they know how much you care.”
Over the next few years, Mackay’s fledgling network became the lever that lifted him to the No. 1 sales position at Quality Park. In 1959, at the age of 26, he felt ready to strike out on his own, so he bought a small, floundering envelope company and went into business for himself. Today, MackayMitchell Envelope Company (formerly Mackay Envelope Company for 46 years) does $100 million in sales annually and has the capacity to produce 25 million envelopes a day.
Humanize Your Selling Strategy
The power of a robust network was evident to Mackay from the beginning of his career. He built his foundation as a salesman by playing golf and developing relationships with people. To implement this vital practice of networking at an organizational level, Mackay developed a 66-question customer profile, known by his employees and devoted readers as “The Mackay 66.” Salespeople at MackayMitchell (and plenty of professionals who have read his books) fill out this 66-question dossier on every customer, prospective customer and supplier.
The Mackay 66 starts with the basics: name, age, hometown, etc. Then the profile gets more detailed, with questions about the customer’s favorite restaurants, preferred topics of conversation, professional goals, attitudes and concerns. The 66 questions provide a highly detailed portrait of the customer as a human being, which gives anyone at MackayMitchell a serious advantage when it comes to approaching that person. As Mackay puts it in Swim with the Sharks: “The sweetest sound in the world to you, and to your customer, is the sound of your own name on someone else’s lips.” Each profile is constantly updated, with every contact recorded and the next contact scheduled. If a salesperson takes the customer to lunch for his or her birthday or sends a link to an interesting article about the customer’s university, it goes in the profile.
So why all this research? Because, quite simply, it works. “Every time I talk to someone, I’m scanning them, finding out what’s important to them. I’m demonstrating that I understand that person as a human being,” Mackay says. No one would argue that successful salespeople should know as much as possible about their company’s products and services. But Mackay would tell you it’s far more important to know about the people involved. “People don’t care how much you know once they know how much you care. So find a creative way to stay in touch.”
An easy way to begin networking is to focus on the other person. Mackay’s best advice for developing your network is simple, and it calls to mind his customer-centered 66 questions. “When you meet an interesting new person you want to stay in touch with, always ask yourself first, ‘What can I do for this person?’ And don’t expect anything in return.”
Believe in Yourself, Because Your Network Does
In 1988, Mackay completed his first book, the business classic Swim with the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive. He was an unknown, first-time author. In general, new authors’ books are published in small print runs of 10,000 copies. This makes it much easier for publishers to recoup their losses if books don’t sell well. But Mackay knew these customarily small print runs are part of the reason so many new authors never get the chance to prove themselves and publish more books.
Mackay made a bold move when he met with his publisher—he requested a print run of 100,000 copies. When the executives in the room responded incredulously, he pulled out his Rolodex, which at that time had more than 6,000 contacts. Some of these contacts were from enormous corporations where, Mackay reasoned, the book would surely be recommended to his contacts’ co-workers. In an unprecedented leap of faith, the publisher agreed to 100,000 copies, and Swim with the Sharks was a New York Times No. 1 Best- Seller for 54 weeks. Mackay went on to write several more books and will release yet another book next year.
Don’t Be Boring
Mackay cites enthusiasm and creativity as major cornerstones of his success. “There is no substitute for passion. I’m looking for three qualities in a salesperson: a hungry fighter, a hungry fighter and a hungry fighter. Once I’ve established that I can trust someone, the main thing I’m looking for is a deep-down burning desire to succeed.”
Mackay tells the story of a New York City cab driver to illustrate creativity in meeting a customer’s needs. When he got into a taxi one day, the driver presented Mackay with a printed mission statement that said he intended to get his passengers to their destinations “safely, courteously and on time.” He offered Mackay an array of CDs to choose from and the use of a cell phone. When the cab came to a stop, the driver presented Mackay with a brown-bagged snack. The taxi driver’s innovative approach and pride in his business garnered him thousands of extra dollars in tips every year. That cab driver, in effect, had the same motto as MackayMitchell Envelope Company: “Do what you love, love what you do, and deliver more than you promise.”
The idea behind Swim with the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive, and at the very heart of Mackay’s philosophy, is that in order to stay competitive and successful you don’t have to become a shark yourself. In fact, the opposite is true: If you demonstrate that you care about others, they’ll want to do business with you. You don’t have to be cutthroat to survive in a cutthroat marketplace. Mackay’s lifetime of achievement is proof that if you combine genuine caring about your network of people with a genuine love for what you do, success is inevitable.
Mackay’s Moral: People don’t care how much you know about them, once they realize how much you care about them.
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