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
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.
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
- The sales manager for a former employer who can
provide background information on principals of a new start up
- 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
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
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.
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.
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."
how can you do a better job of cultivating your network?
are some ideas:
- 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?
- 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.
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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.
- 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