What Making Pastry Has to Do With Building Your Business

My daughter, Delaney, wants to be a pastry chef. She’s 17. Her plan is to attend the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York when she graduates from high school in a year.

This has been her plan for many years, so I’m beginning to think she’s committed. With teenagers, it’s challenging to know what’s really important and what’s just a passing thing.

She’s the kind of kid who spends hours in the kitchen cooking and baking. She’s passionate about dessert (of course, I’m passionate about dessert too—just from a different perspective).

To attend this particular school, you must demonstrate your commitment to the food service business by having worked in the industry for at least six months. She’s working on fulfilling that piece of the application process.

She’s now looking for work and trying to figure out how to squeeze a bakery job in between school and her other commitments. She’s one of these uber-busy kids (hard for me to relate, since I had abundant time for TV when I was a kid), so her time is limited.

An Easy Way to Endear Yourself to a Referral Source

Her quest came up in conversation at a lunch I was having with a local lawyer who represents startups. We talked about Delaney and her plans when he asked open-ended questions about my life. During the conversation, he realized that he knew someone who knew the chef opening a new bakery three blocks from our home.

He immediately offered to attempt to connect Delaney with the chef.

Boom. He’s my new best friend.

There’s no faster way to someone’s heart than offering to help his or her child. It’s the express lane to a solid relationship. In uttering two sentences, he had sealed the deal with me. Before lunch ended, I was thinking of ways to pay him back by helping him in one way or another.

To whom will I refer business formations, negotiations, and litigation work going forward? Will I send it to some nameless large firm, or will I send it to the guy who offered to help my child?

After making the offer, his time commitment to helping has been minimal. He’s e-mailed back and forth with me and his friend. He now has Delaney directly engaged in the e-mails. We’re closing in on an introduction to the chef. Things are moving along.

The lawyer is doing his best to make a meeting happen. That’s all he can do, and I’m grateful. Of course, ultimately, the ball is in Delaney’s court to make something happen with the introduction. No one is going to offer her a position if she fails to rise to the occasion.

However, this attorney has turned a few e-mails into an obligation, a connection, and a loyal referral source. His offer and a little bit of follow-up was all it took to create a very strong relationship between us that will last long after Delaney graduates from school.

Look for ways to be of use to those in your network. Look especially hard when it comes to helping their children. You’ll build connections and generate referrals, and you might even get a chocolate croissant out of the deal. Sweet.

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