Why I Believe in Meeting Clients in Person any Time You Can ©

Professional Speaker Magazine
by Rita Emmett

The flight in to Philly was one of those nightmarish if-anything-can-go-wrong-it-will deals, and when I landed four hours late that afternoon, I was feeling de-energized and down right exhausted.

The next morning, I would be giving the closing talk for the National Kidney Foundation (NFK) in a joint session of Renal Professionals – doctors, nurses, dieticians and social workers who work with kidney patients including dialysis and transplants.

As usual, I was invited to attend the banquet the evening before my talk; this one was a semi-formal awards dinner. I strongly believe with all my heart and soul that it is important to join social gatherings with clients prior to a talk BUT I was tired, possibly coming down with a flu bug, and just didn’t feel like going.

I started to talk myself out of it. I told myself that I didn’t need to meet these clients, I certainly knew this audience.

Since giving a free talk to Renal Nurses three years ago, I was now being paid to fly all over the country speaking to and getting to know each of theses groups of Renal Professionals. As part of my preparation, I had called seven leaders of this conference ahead of time and picked their brains about the challenges, stresses and joys of working in this field. I had worked hard at personalizing my talk, my handouts and my AV materials.

Yes, I knew this audience very, very well; I’d done my homework, and perhaps could skip this chance to meet more Renal Professionals personally.

Then, at the last minute, I decided that they deserved "my giving them my best", so I dressed up and went to the before-dinner cocktail party. The first person I met, I asked, "Where do you work?"

She said, "Sears."

I was surprised. "Aren’t you a Renal Professional?"

"No, I’m a kidney transplant patient. Our association, the NFK TransAction Council, is invited to ‘piggy back’ the NKF Conference. We attend any of their sessions we want, so we can learn the latest in the field about what’s happening to our bodies. Plus we run educational sessions of our own and have a chance to network."

I was astounded. "Will you be at the closing talk tomorrow?"

"Oh yes, we can attend everything. They are very generous."

I had not a clue that they’d be part of my audience, and couldn’t believe I’d missed this information. Besides the seven people I’d interviewed, I’d had many phone conversations with the meeting planner, the person who was to introduce me, and the office staff.

"I’m the speaker for tomorrow’s closing talk, and had NO idea that you’d be part of the audience!" I stammered.

"Do you know that the NFK National Donor Family Council has the same invitation and privileges transplant recipients do?"

"WHAT!!??"

She then took me by the arm and led me over to and introduced me to a donor family. These are courageous, generous people who have had a beloved family member die, and they have donated organs to others who need them.

Members of the National Donor Family Council travel around giving talks promoting organ donation awareness. Because they have told their stories so many times, these family members were able to tell me with dry eyes and no self-pity about their loved ones who had passed away– what they were like and how they died – and they told me stories of meeting some of the people who received the donated organs.

They told of a teen-aged son’s donations going to five different people. His dad talked about meeting the woman who could now see because of his son’s donation, and of meeting the young mother who now had their son’s heart pumping blood through her body.

Two and a half buckets of tears later, I left that social gathering deeply touched at the honor and privilege to have met so many courageous transplant patients and donor families in addition to the terrific Renal Professionals I anticipated meeting.

I went back to my room and without much effort, was able to re-craft my talk and add some personalized material to include these other two associations that I didn’t know would be there. And I thanked God I had run in to them at the social gathering.

And once again I renewed my commitment to spend any time I can in meeting the clients – whether at a meal prior to the talk, or a social gathering the day before, or simply arriving early to have time to chat before a presentation – because it is through hearing their stories in person that I’m often able to add the personalization to the talk that they love and appreciate so much.

 

Want to write a book? Go to Rita’s web site www.RitaEmmett.com and click on The Writer’s Room. Take a look at Rita's The Procrastinator's Guide To Authorship: Stop Putting Off Your Success. Find a free article about writing proposals in The Writer’s Room

Don’t procrastinate in going there now.

Rita Emmett, author of The Procrastinator’s Handbook and The Clutter-Busting Handbook, is a professional speaker who presents Keynotes and Seminars nationwide. She can be reached at 847-699-9950 and email is Rita@RitaEmmett.com

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