Have you ever felt judged or disrespected while out socially, in a customer service situation or when networking?

“Don’t judge a book by its cover” is a quote by English novelist George Eliot and I have to say it’s some of the best advice I’ve heard. It serves in all aspects of my life including my business.

How you interpret this quote can depend on what you’ve experienced both personally and professionally. But what it means to me is this. When we meet someone for the first time what we initially see is not a indication of the whole person.

What this can also mean in our life, business or career is that we can never really be certain of who we are connecting with. If we have a business we don’t know whether we are meeting our next client, or not. In our career or life, we have no idea if a customer or colleague could potentially be our next employer. Maybe even a friend or a partner.

But let’s have a look at this from a client or customer perspective.

Do you remember that infamous scene in the movie Pretty Woman?

I’m sure we all remember that scene as Julia Roberts’ character Vivian was ignored and refused service in a luxurious New York store. Only to return later for a revenge visit, laden with bags after spending thousands of dollars elsewhere.

I loved that scene! Did you do a fist pump and yell a “yes” like me?

It reminds me of my own experiences in retail decades ago. The amount of times I had fun chatting to a customer whilst they were browsing. Initially through a collection of $10 pendants, they seemingly had no intention of buying anything. Then would leave an hour later with a very expensive string of pearls.

You never can tell who your next client, employer or friend will be. It could be that person you are networking or meeting with right now. You might not even have any rapport with them or any indication of the potential of the relationship. But it’s important to always be prepared.

Treating everyone the same always holds us in good stead

It’s very easy to judge people by what we initially see and hear. We all have a tendency to do this because it’s part of the human condition. It’s important to remind ourselves that the way we initially perceive someone is not always what is really going on at all. It’s not a full view of who the person really is. We just see them through our own world-view lens.

Remind yourself that when meeting someone for the first time you are networking. Learn to see past what people look like. The way they speak, the clothes they wear, where they live and the car they drive. See everyone as equal. As you do this it will lead you to treat everyone the same.

Remember you are always networking no matter where you are

When speaking to a business audience of a couple of hundred a few years ago, I witnessed something extraordinary. One of my co-presenters was demonstrating how we are all connected. She singled out someone in the audience and asked her to stand. Then she asked everyone who knew or knew of that person to stand up. It was powerful because nearly everyone in the room stood up. And that’s just at one event. Imagine how we are all connected in one way or another every day.

Remember even when you are out socially you are networking. Whether you are doing your shopping, playing with the kids on the park, even driving your car. This means it’s essential to always treat everyone with kindness, courtesy and respect.

Respond to everyone as you would a valued customer or client

In business, there are always a multitude of emails and calls to respond to. Sometimes it may feel easier to put off responding, especially if it’s someone selling to us. We never know who our next client will be and it may even be that person who you’re not responding to.

Even online you are networking. Respond to everyone who contacts you in the same way. This is because they may be your next clients or they may know someone who could be. If you need more time to make a decision or write a more detailed response, send them a quickie. Let them know you’ve received their email or call and will be in touch.

The only time we’re not networking is when we are alone and offline. If we stop judging and focus on treating everyone in the same way, we can’t go wrong. Remember that as life changes people’s choices change. Nothing ever remains the same. This means you can easily be connecting with an acquaintance or supplier one day. And then they could be your client, employer or personal friend the next.

If you think judgement might be your achilles heel, possibly even through judging yourself, then working with a good and experienced coach can help you stop limiting yourself. You are welcome to Book Your Initial Connect Call HERE to see if coaching with Deb is the best fit for you.