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Published Articles by David Balovich

Title: Establishing Relationships
Published in: Creditworthy News
Date: 2/9/05
The credit profession is most valued for being able to find the un-findable, locate the obscure, track down arcane information and generally do the impossible. Credit professionals bring a broad body of knowledge, skills and information to the table. Six new applicants all wanting their orders delivered yesterday are not unusual and this challenge makes our job interesting.

Old timers will say that the difference between a great credit manager and a good credit manager is as much who you know, as what you know. Knowing whom to contact often solves the unsolvable problem. For this reason, the people we meet and relationships we establish can make a world of difference in our career and our performance.

By establishing relationships with credit managers in other companies, we can build a "resource library" of friends. People we can call on when all else fails. Here are a few examples of relationships that can help get the job done:

  • The credit manager for a large pharmaceutical manufacturer can direct us to the right person to contact for information in a small lab supplier who does not have a formal credit department.
  • The sales manager for a former employer who can provide background information on principals of a new start up company.
  • The retired credit manager who is happy to look at the financial statement and point out what's missing or which balance sheet item does not compute.
  • The warehouse manager in a distribution company who can recommend a good freight forwarder.
  • The computer programmer who can inform us about technical glitches in a software program we are considering purchasing.

Old timers in every organization probably have dozens of war stories like these. Stories about calling just the right person who bailed them out of a difficult problem. 

Great credit managers have a reputation for doing the impossible. They are the busy ones who have connections and know how to use them. The old rolodex with identifying smudges in just the right places, the business card file that goes back to one of the first salesmen you ever met and the electronic contact list organized by categories are all indicators of someone who understands and values relationships.

These people go out of their way at industry group meetings, trade shows, credit conferences and events to meet everyone they can, exchange business cards and chat with new acquaintances. They ask lots of questions about what, how, who and where. They talk about work and squirrel away names of their newfound contacts. They sit at tables with people they don't know, examine company names on rosters and seek out likely contacts. 

"I may never have perfected a security interest before, but the first rule of credit management says someday I'm going to need to perfect one in a hurry. When that happens, hopefully I'll know someone who perfects them all the time."

So how can you do a better job of cultivating your network? 

Here are some ideas:

  1. When you travel or attend credit events, go out of your way to meet people. Sit with people you don't know at meals. Ask questions. Think of it as a job interview in reverse. a. Who; do you work for; who are your customers; do you buy from; do you work with? b. What; do you sell, do you use; do you buy? c. How; do you decide; track; obtain; contract? d. Why; do you like it; do you hate it; do you do it that way? 
  2. Carry, distribute and collect business cards. Lots of them! The Japanese make a ceremony of exchanging business cards and almost everyone has a card. You might even want to order some inexpensive business cards in your own name and home email to use when you are not working on behalf of the company. 
  3. Don't just file the cards away in pristine condition. Mark them up, write the meeting date and occasion on the back, add notes about items of special interest and highlight important facts. 
  4. File the cards topically, not just by the person's last name. File cards by category, commodity, specialization or some other key element that means something. Putting a credit managerís card for the Balloon company in the "Js" because his last name is Jones won't help you find a balloon when you need one. 
  5. Mark or tag the really important cards. I once put glue on a business card for a competitor I could rely on for giving me accurate information. It was the only way I could ever find it. 
  6. If you have one of the electronic business card scanners, use it. Put it next to your desk and let it scan while you work on other things.  
  7. Use Outlook or Act or some other good contact management software that lets you store and sort contact information by category. I'm talking about Outlook, not Outlook Express. Use the same program at home that you do at work, then what you learn one place you can use at the other.

People in our profession who establish and cultivate relationships understand the true value of a network to themselves, their company and their careers. Do you?

I wish you well.  

The information provided above is for educational purposes only and not provided as legal advice. Legal advice should be obtained from a licensed attorney in good standing with the Bar Association and preferably Board Certified in either Creditor Rights or Bankruptcy.  

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