Building PR – through personal relationship
I am talking here of my twenty-five years of life and career I’n Delhi. Delhi is the city where you have the most number of Government offices – Ministries, Departments, attached offices, autonomous bodies, subordinate offices and so on.
Whatever position you occupy, getting things done may not be that easier, unless you ‘know’ someone. The word ‘know’ indicates here mutual knowledge; you know him well and he knows you well. This requires working specifically towards building contacts and relationship. When you start knowing someone I’n some detail, the attempt should be to further cement that bond whenever you happen to talk to the other person.
According to me, sometimes you have to simply call the other person, with nothing to gain, in terms of some Information or get something done, for just enquiring about him, his ‘haal chaal’. And, going by this methodology, you have to also visit him occasionally to see him personally when you have nothing to gain – except ‘solidifying’ your name in his mind, to think of you. When you meet him, simply say ‘I happened to pass through this way, and suddenly remembered you and came to say hello’.And, if you follow this practice, let me assure you that when you need ‘something’ from him, the next time, he is sure to help you. I strengthened and built up my contacts this way, so that I could tap their services whenever I needed some help and could invariably succeed too. By services I mean, getting factual information on some matters, getting some papers/files moved faster, quick clarifications on certain points etc.
I had also built up such excellent relationship with top level scientists, Government Secretaries, various other senior level officers in Ministries and Department all of whom I could easily approach personally for help relating to many official matters. The fact that such help came to me so readily also is an indication of the confidence and trust these officials had kept in me. All this made my immediate boss once remark, ‘CVS could even talk to the Prime Minister directly!'(sic).
Not only was this contact limited to officials in other offices, but you need to cultivate this habit while dealing with all others too – others who also matter. As an example I would narrate here an incident. While working I’n CDAC, Delhi we were occupying a building taken on rent from a Sardarjee, who was by nature, very kind. Once I faced a peculiar problem when my office had to give some big amount (Rs.50,000) for CDAC members who came to Delhi on way to their trip to China for participation in an Exhibition. They were carrying heavy luggage (pamphlets etc) which needed to be booked as ‘extra luggage’ and paid for. Assuming that they could pay this through credit card, they had not bought extra cash for this purpose. Before the flight, they enquired with the airlines the approximate cost for this extra luggage, nearly Rs.50,000/- plus; they also learnt the airlines normally did not allow such payment through credit card.
Normally, my office would pay this amount as advance to the members. At the particular time, the balance available in our bank account was only around Rs.10000/-. The head office at Pune, even if they transfer some amount, it would take at least a day. Over and above all this, I had built up a reputation that ‘CVS could solve any problem I’n Delhi.’ ‘How?’, I wondered. I had to find a solution.
The idea struck me at once, The landlord, who had a shop on the ground floor of the same building turned out to be the solution. I called him up to my office, narrated the problem and asked him whether I could borrow from him Rs.50000/-. to which he replied ‘CVS Saab, mien aap ke liye kuch bhi kar sakta hoom.’ All he wanted was ten minutes of time. And lo, he came with five bundles of Rs.100 notes. I said, I would give him a receipt with an undertaking to return the money the next day, when the money from my H,O. would have been credited. He refused to take a receipt. Recalling that incident today, i am reminded of the words used I’n the Kalyan Jewellery Malayalam TV advertisement ‘viswasam, athalle ellaam’ (meaning everything is based on trust – and confidence).
Later, during a function in my office to which we had invited our landlord also, I particularly focused on this incident and thanked the landlord thus: ‘we are fortunate to have a landlord, who is actually the Lord Himself. Usually, the Lord descends from the skies above, but in my case, this particular Lord, showing unusual gesture of kindness towards me, took the trouble of climbing up three floors using the stairs.’ And, this way I could at least express my thanks. All this because, I had cultivated excellent personal relationship with him. He could easily recognize my voice, when I made a casual courtesy call over the telephone from Mumbai, after thirteen long years! Yes, if you want your PR to really work, build strong personal relationships.