A big company hired a very expensive advisor to make more deals. The expensive advisor made a list of “highly important people” and for some reason I was put at the top of the list.
The advisor suggested to invite the most important person to a very important event, an Opera in the most important place of Music, in Amsterdam, the Concertgebouw. The event was so important that even The Queen would attend the Opera. I love Opera and the Opera (The Magic Flute) was of my favorite composer Mozart.
I was sitting next to the CEO of the Big Company. I did not know him and I also did not know I was selected as the most important person in the hierarchy of the big company I was working for. You can imagine this created a lot of confusion.
The CEO started to talk about all kinds of issues that were not of my “business”. I mentioned the names of the most important Managers and explained him how to get into contact with them. I enjoyed the Opera, thanked the CEO for the invitation and left home.
It will be clear to you that the very expensive advisor did not do his homework properly. At this moment it is very easy to do the homework. Just type “Hans Konstapel” and push the button and Google will show you many things “about me”.
But the homework you have to do to sell a product is much more than finding everything you need to know about an important person.
Understanding his Network is much more important. You could use Linked-in
The influence of a person in the Network is highly determinated by the the amount of bridges in his network. When the amount of bridges is high the person is able to connect to many other (Sub)-networks. He is a “boundary-spanner”. A boundary-spanner is related to other boundary-spanners. They are also bridging networks. So a boundary-spanner is able to connect You to almost everybody you want to connect with ease.
Boundary-spanners are highly influential in the informal network of a Company and the external network of the Company. They are almost invisible in the Hierarchy. Boundary-spanners advice people with a status in the Hierarchy. They are asked for their opinion. Most of the time their opinion is the most crucial factor in a decision.
Boundary-spanners almost never buy a product. They don’t have the budget or the authority to do this but when you are related to the boundary-spanners in a company you will always know “when the need for a product is arising”, “what products are on the short list” and “who is in favor for what”. When the boundary-spanners don’t know anything about your product you will probably never sell anything.
Later I realized that the very expensive Advisor perhaps did his Homework properly. I was one of the Boundary-Spanners in my Company and because of the names I mentioned the Big Company was introduced in the Network of my Company with a very low budget.