Article: We All Need Allies

By Leslie Delfs, Marketing Manager

Life is tough and full of complex problems.  How do I finance a college education before I’ve had my first job?  How do I raise my children into well-functioning human beings?  What’s a transmission and what is that noise?  To get through life’s maze and find its rewards, we depend on our allies – our parents, our friends, our spouses.

Work life is no different.  How do I initiate a successful business before I’ve landed a client?  How do I convert knowledge and experience into income?  Who can tell me what recapitalization means?  Similarly, we depend on allies in our professional lives to help us and they, in turn, depend on us to help with their problems.

But, as we meet new people every day, you may ask yourself, "How do I identify professional allies?”  David Ackert, President of The Ackert Advisory, proposes a simple set of qualifiers one can use to qualify allies wisely.  It’s called the 4 C’s:

  1. Chemistry
  2. Commerce
  3. Competence
  4. Collaboration

Chemistry.  During or right after your first meeting, ask yourself if you like this person.  Does intuition tell you he has baseline trustworthiness?  Do you want to spend more time getting to know him?

Commerce.   Consider if this person fits into your sphere of the work world.  Ask them questions about their profession and industry.  If you build dams for a living and she designs turbines, that is a good commerce fit.  If she’s a sheriff’s deputy, perhaps save her as a resource, but not an ally.

Competence.  You need to know if this person can solve your complex problem or perhaps that of someone you might refer to him.  At a lunch meeting ask questions such as, “What kinds of issues are you working on right now?"  Or, “What are some of the biggest professional challenges you’ve experience to date?”  His answer will be indicative of a level of competence.

Collaboration.  Is this person willing to work with you?  Will she reciprocate what you bring to the relationship?  Exploring collaboration takes a little bit of time, but dig in because a good ally is worth the effort.  Start by sending her something of value: an article, an introduction, an invitation to lunch.  See if she responds with gratitude.  Does she send something of value in return?  Her behavior will either be collaborative or it won’t.

By using the 4C’s as a tool to observe other professionals in your life, you’ll have a solid method for finding people who are more than just a helpful resource.  You’ll find your allies.  And we all need allies.