How to Get People to Tell You Things

By Coming Off Likable, Friendly and Helpful

By Larry Welborn

Courthouse Reporter, Orange County Register

  1. Remember people’s names.
  2. Say "Thank You" – even send some thank-you cards.
  3. Become human to the people you deal with; look for common ground.
  4. Fair to all, large and small. Get to know the judges, but also their clerks, bailiffs and secretaries.
  5. Find Mr. or Mrs. Right – the person who knows.
  6. Return phone calls, all of them.
  7. Make a source list on your computer. Periodically call people just to chat.
  8. Do not speak negatively of any person. The worst thing you should say is: So-and-so is really a character.
  9. Do not whine.
  10. Your business card is your friend. You should hand out a box a year.
  11. Put names and phone numbers in a source list, with a note about each person.
  12. Never miss a chance to do a simple favor.
  13. Share funny jokes.
  14. Get names in stories and spell them right.
  15. Get out of the office, say "hi" and smile. Take advantage of the 3 p.m. recess to meet people face-to-face. Say "hey, what’s going on?"
  16. Breaking bread. Have breakfast and lunch with sources.
  17. Develop a source list and update it.
  18. Train sources to call you. Tell them, if you would tell this news to your spouse or your aunt, call me. You’ll get a lot of chaff – and some wheat. Every body has a news tip.
  19. Always be honest, especially in these days of Jayson Blair and Jack Kelley. Tell people what you are doing and why you are doing it.
  20. Always protect your source. Explain what you mean by off-the-record and not-for-attribution.
  21. Establish ground rules.
  22. Use sources to get to other sources.
  23. Ask for help. People feel more important because they can help.
  24. Never blame your employer.
  25. Get the name of the dog and the name of the beer.
  26. Be part of the community but don’t be too chummy.