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Max’s Tips for Dating and Sales

I met a long-lost friend from college for lunch yesterday. He’d been working for IBM in San Francisco for a number of years before returning back east to get his MBA. During the normal course of catching up, I casually asked if he was dating anyone (I’m married, so gimmie a break, I have to live vicariously where I can). Big sigh. “No,” he started. “Dating women in New York is… so much work.” That’s surprising, because at over six-feet-tall, cheerful, athletic, and plenty wealthy, I remembered that Max never had to lift a finger when it came to dating in college.

I met a long-lost friend from college for lunch yesterday. He’d been working for IBM in San Francisco for a number of years before returning back east to get his MBA. During the normal course of catching up, I casually asked if he was dating anyone (I’m married, so gimmie a break, I have to live vicariously where I can). Big sigh. “No,” he started. “Dating women in New York is… so much work.” That’s surprising, because at over six-feet-tall, cheerful, athletic, and plenty wealthy, I remembered that Max never had to lift a finger when it came to dating in college. What’s all this have to do with business, you ask? Well, according to Max, apparently dating in New York is not unlike closing a major sales deal. Here’s Max’s strategy for sales and dating alike. (Call this Fast Company’s Friday two-fer):

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1. Before you make an approach, you have to come up with an alluring value proposition. It’s not enough to say, on the spur of the moment, “Would you like to have coffee sometime?” You have to carefully script an event, complete with an invitation to dinner at someplace original–no cliches allowed. Then, in an effort to clinch the deal (we’re talking 2nd date here, nothing more), it’s wise to pile on another something like a party, a movie, or a show. Again, the more original the idea the better.

2. Assuming your initial value proposition is accepted and you actually do go on the date, don’t get too full of yourself. You are just one of many suitors vying for the same prize: another date. Think of this as the RFP stage. Women in New York, Max informs me, evaluate several of these initial value propositions (dates) at a time and from there, they gradually cull out the losers. The process continues in the same manner for several more rounds until a winner begins to emerge, someone who can consistently offer compelling value propositions. Only then can the chance to have a relationship be seriously considered.

3. Underpinning this process, Max says, a guy has to continuously maintain the value proposition of himself. That is, it’s not enough to come up with a series of fun-filled evenings. A guy has to keep constant vigil over his looks, his mannerisms, and, most importantly, his earning potential. Let any of these slip and you won’t even be a contender.

Max is taking it easy now. He just finished exams. Last week he accepted a lucrative job offer with a great company that will begin after graduation in May. And he’s leaving next week for a family ski vacation in Vail. Why, he asks, would he want to upset all that now by jumping into the exhaustive dating scene? “Maybe next semester.”

What do you think: Is Max wise beyond his years or over-thinking the whole thing?

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