We all start somewhere


I believe you treat everyone with respect.  You give everyone the time of day.  You don’t just intentionally blow people off.

That doesn’t mean you take meetings everytime someone wants to "pick your brain", and it doesn’t mean you necessarily treat everyone you meet the same (same time, same depth, same attention).  It’s just important to remember that we live in a small world, roles change constantly, and your good will today will pay dividends – directly or indirectly – down the road.

Case in point:

Twelve years ago I met John Cook for the first time.  He doesn’t remember, but I do.  He was a technology reporter for the Bellevue Journal-American, a small suburban newspaper with a limited circulation.  He gave a talk at a local PR firm about working with the media.  I thought he was a small-timer. 

Thank goodness, despite my lack of maturity and perspective, I didn’t share that sentiment with him or anyone else at the time.  Today, John is one of the most influential technology reporters in the Pacific Northwest.  We all start somewhere.

Today’s intern could be an influential peer, or even manage your division, in a few years.  She could start her own company and become an important, revenue-generating partner to your business.

The sales rep you blew off at the last trade show?  You might have something you want to sell him in your next job.  And the reporter for that third-tier trade publication may get a job at Business Week down the road.

You never know.  Why risk those opportunities in the future by blowing them off today?