People will accept your ideas much more readily if you tell them Benjamin Franklin said it first." (David H. Comins)

Humorous, yes. Profound, indeed! Although I believe Mr. Comins was pointing out the universal respect people have to this day for the wisdom of Benjamin Franklin, his observation leads us to another and equally significant point: Your thoughts, ideas and suggestions will be embraced much more quickly by those you wish to persuade when you credit them to someone else.

Why is this? It seems to be a fact of human nature that when people know us too well, they have a difficult time accepting us as an authority. Often, they'll accept practically anyone else as more of an authority--and it doesn't even have to be Ben Franklin. Many parents have told me (with much fascination) that their children will pay scant mind to the words of wisdom they so freely offer, yet those same children will come running home to share a stunning insight (yes, the exact same profundity) they'd just heard from a friend's parent, or a teacher, a coach or even another child.

I can't tell you how often I've been taken aside by the leader of a network marketing organization who has brought me in to speak to his group, and quietly told, "Bob, give em' your best stuff...'cause they sure ain't listening to me!" This always takes me aback: the person telling me this may well have tens of thousands of people in his or her organization. And understand: there's really nothing I can tell this group that the leader hasn't already told them ten times over.

But such is life.

The Perplexing "Isness" of It

The wisdom offered by a "third party" is believed more than that of those who are respected and even loved by the listener. This is true in the worlds of family and business alike.

In the corporate (i.e., non-network marketing) world, I'm often brought great distances to speak to a company about business networking, knowing that a person who speaks on that exact topic with equal expertise lives in that very city. But don't feel too bad for that speaker--he'll be hired to speak in my home town instead of me. Why? Because the people in my home town know me. Familiarity may or may not breed contempt, but it sure does weaken credibility. (How could that person be an expert? I know him!)

Should it be that way? Quite frankly, I don't know. I just know that it is.

When something is, you can choose to embrace it or disregard it; whichever choice you make, it still is. (I may choose to believe the law of gravity works, or choose not to believe it. The results of my walking off of a 12-story building will be the same, regardless.)

My suggestion is to embrace this principle and use it to your advantage--as well as to the advantage of the person you are recruiting to join your organization or purchase your products.

For example, as you show your company's business plan, constantly edify the leaders in your organization. Talk about how Jack is a wonderful leader who is always happy to work with those who are willing to work. Make sure your prospect knows that Sharon had the very same feelings of fear and concern that your prospect is having now, and that because she made the decision to go ahead with this, she was able to leave her dead-end job and create an incredible life for herself.

This is a compelling reason to make the effort to get to know some of the people you will be edifying. You want to have some genuinely good feelings about them and learn as much as you can about them, their stories, the struggles they had to overcome along the way. Still, even if you don't know them all that well, you can still edify them as the great leaders they are and relate their stories. The important thing is that they are...well, that they are someone else. Not you. Remember, the prospect doesn't believe you--they know you.

The Power of the Other

By the way, another advantage of knowing your leaders personally is that perhaps they will do some three-way calls with you. This is a wonderful way to let that third-party credibility (which you cited earlier while speaking with your prospect) do the presenting for you. And if these folks were sharp enough to get to where they are, they are sharp enough to know that their job is also to edify you to your prospect--which now supplies you with more credibility with this person.

Edify, edify, edify. Make the issue someone else and not you. To do this requires that you put your ego aside--which can be a tall assignment.

Here is the big question we all need to ask ourselves in such situations: Are we more concerned with our egos than with the results? Or are we happy getting the results--even if we don't get the credit for the wisdom?

By the way, third-party credibility comprises more than simply talking about other people or letting them speak for you. There are many tools your company or organization supplies to give you all the advantages of the third party: literature, web sites, CD's and DVD's, independent research studies and, of course, testimonials from people who had dramatic product experiences. The magazine you hold in your hand, produced independently and not by your company, is a powerful third-party credibility tool. (Indeed, that is one of its principal reasons for being.)

Remember, the more you take "yourself as the expert" out of the picture, the more receptive your prospect will most likely be to everything you say. n

BOB BURG is author of Endless Referrals, Winning Without Intimidation and the just-released booklet, The Success Formula: Three Timeless Principles That Will Turbocharge Your Success and Dramatically Improve Your Life.