Tuesday, January 09, 2007



For the purposes of this blog, I sought for examples of people who could, on a face-to-face basis, make a good first impression on people and influence them to act in the way he wanted.

I thought of the way some politicians can "work a room" as they say. That is, to walk into a roomful of strangers uninvited and move among them, greeting each individually and making such a good impression that he influences them to suport his candidacy with money and votes.

These certainly are ideal qualities for an Esperanto recruiter and it is very worthwhile to learn just how such skillful politicians do this.

However, I rejected the politican example because he has an organization behind him and because he is basically winning people to himself and secondarily to support the policies of his political party.

So I kept searching for the kind of person who can initiate a conversation uninvited with an unknown indivdual (not in a group) and quickly convince that person to take the action desired.

This one-on-one recruiting is specifically what this blog is about.

I have known religious people who could convert people by means of personal influence, but they have been rare, and I thought it best to avoid using such examples in a discussion of Esperanto recruiting because many Esperantists are rather religion-phobic and would be unwilling to accept that as a model they should follow even in a secular activity, such as promoting Esperanto.

Finally I determind the best example I could think of --- but alas --- very few of you would understand without my further explanation, because such men were in an occupation that went out of style more or less 50 years ago! And my observations pertain only to the United States. Sorry, its the best I can do.

A long time ago (in the U.S.) before the existence of chain stores and shopping malls (and internet shopping of course) many important products (vacuum cleaners, encyclopedias, insurance, family Bibles, sewing machines, kitchen ware, etc.) were sold by house-to-house salesmen.

Each salesman sold only one product, and he knocked on every door in every neighborhood in every city, town, and rural community. There are many jokes about "traveling salesmen" but the fact is they performed a valuable service. Their sales techniques later got a bad reputation due to unscrupulous people selling substandard wares and the scam artists who took advantage of customers.

In more modern times, for good reasons, homemakers would be afraid to open their door to unknown individuals going from house to house. Therefore the honest, hardworking old-time door-to-door salesman has been replaced by the telephone marketer. (And perhaps we can include the internet spammer.)

But in earlier years, the door-to-door salesman was a worthy example for an Esperanto recruiter to imitate. Why? Because he had developed a personality or persona by which he could establish instant rapport with perfect strangers long enough to present a skillful "sales pitch."

Also, he was disciplined and persistent in contacting people. He had discouraging days, but he never gave up.

I was privileged to know several such men. Several set a goal of visiting 50 homes a day. They put 50 pennies in their left pants pocket and after they had visited a house, they moved a penny to the right-hand pants pocket. They didn't quit work for the day until all the coins were in the right hand pocket, no matter how long it took. They often walked 10-15 miles a day, knocking on doors. They made a good living at it.

Can you imagine an Esperantist doing anything comparable to recruit others? Interesting conjecture, isn't it?

Next, I'll examine the personality traits of such model-examples.


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