Back when I was first starting my business, it took me a l-o-n-g time to ramp up. In fact, it was nearly two years before I had enough regular clients to even really consider it a business. Those two years didn't go to waste, though. I spent them seeding my business - attending tons of networking events and meeting as many new people as I could. That enabled me to begin one of my favorite parts of entrepreneurism: connecting other entrepreneurs.
In his book, Love Is the Killer App: How to Win Business and Influence Friends, Tim Sanders discusses the three things that will make any business owner truly successful:
- BE A RESOURCE. By this, Sanders specifically means to read every book that is related to your industry - as well as books outside your industry - and then recommend them, as appropriate. While I wholeheartedly agree with this concept, I suggest you take it a step further and not limit your resource list to books. You will create tons of good will if you can also recommend relevant blogs, Web sites, magazines, white papers ... any tool that gives the recipient a new idea to help them improve their own business.
- BE A CONNECTOR. This is the thing I worked so hard at during those first two years. Meet people. Listen carefully. And when you hear someone say they have a need, be ready to connect them to the person who has the solution. Sanders makes one very important caveat: do this without expecting anything in return. He explains that when people come to understand that you're always hanging around, waiting for a referral fee, they will stop using you as a resource. Goes back to that whole Go Giver idea of giving without expectations.
- BE COMPASSIONATE. At the time Sanders first published his book (July 2003), this was still a brand new concept. Would be great if compassion caught on like the texting craze - but the business world is still largely wary of authenticity and emotion, let alone emotions as sappy as love and compassion. The thing is, putting people first will always get you further than putting the bottom line first. So don't be afraid to be loving.
It seems like a no-brainer, to be a resource for your clients. Chances are, though, that there are far wider ways you could do so. Open your eyes and ears. Start listening for the things people are telling you they need. Then, scan your network, library, Web favorites ... and when you have something helpful, offer it. Doing so will just make you all the more attractive to your clients and the people you refer.
This is Day 9 in the 60-Day Content Challenge. See you tomorrow for the next post!
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