Turning the Why into Why Not?
So often in business we get told to discover our ‘Why’ for being in the business or career we have chosen. It can certainly help us focus on the value in our activities by asking such questions as, “Will doing this meet my outcomes?” Or we ponder, “Will it support me in achieving my why?”
However – our ‘Why’ sometimes gets in the way of building our networks. We become too focussed on specific outcomes – blocking out the more abstract ways that networking, interacting with others and attending relevant events will assist us to grow our business, find employment and as I’ve said before, even find love.
I have worked with people so determined to calculate the ROI (Return on investment) in dollar terms that they have declared no form of networking or relationship building is worth their investment of either time or money! But is this fair? Can we honestly expect a ROI that is readily attributed to a particular event or phone call every time? It’s usually the same folk that sit there waiting for Karma to vanquish their enemies right in front of their eyes. Some things take time – it’s a cumulative outcome.
Of course it can happen – you invest two hours at a breakfast, pay your $29.95 for bacon and eggs and happen to sit next to someone who needs you or your product – right now! Winner! But this is not the norm for many reasons and is it enough that they spend the $500 you calculate it cost you to be there? Is that the best we can hope for?
In the forgoing example – we landed a seat right next to our ‘ideal client’. It could be put down to luck – or your innate understanding of who your ideal client is – which would draw the two of you together. In terms of fulfilling our ‘Why’ meeting our ideal client meets the brief. We go out, make a phone call or post on social media and they come running.
But if this isn’t always happening – why do we persevere? I always believe that we either earn or we learn. We can certainly learn about our ideal client, their needs and wants – and adjust our approach accordingly.
We also discovered last month that most people have about 120 others in their circle. So if they aren’t our ideal client – they may know or come across someone who is. These people become our advocates – our referrers. They may never be a client of our goods or services – but by networking with our advocates we can educate them about our business and what we have to offer. Over time they will grow to know us, to like us and to trust us. This process forms an invaluable part of our pipeline and whilst it’s rarely instant it can be long lasting if we treat our advocates well.
Looking inwards now – we can reach out to our networks and to networking events in particular, for education and experience. Especially when in the company of our industry peers – we may not see the opportunity for gaining a client – whilst it may be there – the immediate value is in the learning. I’ve been to events purely for the speaker or to remain current and that’s ok.
On the topic of staying current, there is also value in being seen to be up to date – to be out in your industry. This strengthens your personal brand and the reputation you have amongst your peers and current/future clients alike. It’s why I advise you to check in at events properly on social media and to pay forward key learning via a blog or post. Again this is not going to give you an immediate return – but builds on a strong personal brand foundation.
I’m sure you can add many other reasons to the list, build skills, test theories, be seen – but I’m going to finish on ‘Motivation’. Working from home, or small office, or even being a lone wolf in a larger organisation can be lonely, which in turn affects our motivation. Reaching out to our networks or attending strategically chosen events and meetings can help us reclaim our mojo by being around people who ‘get you’ or excite you. Seeing others moving along the same path can out the fire in our belly – so isn’t this worth our time? But how do you put a dollar value on it?
I’d put it to you that not every activity we undertake in building and tending to our networks bears fruit immediately. It’s not always obvious how some activities help us to achieve our why. But in the bigger picture we need all elements of our networks to strengthen us, to educate us and to motivate us – so be honest about your why – and say why not to networking.