Thursday, February 26, 2009

Confidentiality - Local

Here’s another tip on confidential agreements – now we’re talking about dealing with local folks.

Earlier we discussed the pleasantries (lets call them that) of dealing at a distance for finding a comfortable relation with future promise and disclosure of abilities - both ways. Dealing across the table with a possible supplier, manufacturer or other helper is much the same.

Remember that major point we covered? Qualify them as likely candidates without spilling specifics of your product. Just give enough to make certain they have no conflict with similar products or other customers. Then schedule a sit-down for face to face conversation. I prefer to trust my gut evaluation of the people I’m looking at - regardless of threatening, long winded paperwork. Their body language can reveal a lot of truth. Sometimes you get really good vibes - sometimes not so good.

For these personal meetings my simple Confidentiality Format is fine. It simply states that two parties (fill in the blanks) agree to discuss issues concerning my product. Both parties agree to confidential status of all proprietary information shared by either party. That’s it! Nothing else needs to be written. We’ll agree to honor each other’s business and each other’s word -or not.

Before my meeting I sign and date two copies - and slide them over with a brief explanation such as: “I’m here because I need help and I feel we’ll both want to talk freely, maybe about sensitive stuff. I’ve already signed this code of silence for your files and mine. ” Their name or the company is also typed, with a solid bold line for a signature. I don’t bother to ask. I just slide it over. They’ll either sign or they won’t.

Confidentiality should be a two way street. You both have secrets. And you need to share info to benefit each other. Give them the opportunity to respond favorably. Your simple unintimidating Agreement can quickly give a clue as to how your meeting will go - and whether you even want to be there - much less risk an extended relationship.

Even an interview with an unfamiliar inventor (one seeking help for his precious Great Idea) can benefit from a similar two-way Confidentiality Agreement. Hell, my secrets are just as important as his - maybe more. So, it works both ways. Each of us will keep our mouths shut. Sometimes this type of Confidential Agreements even works with those hyper-sensitive novice inventors. You know, the ones that don’t even trust their mother.

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