Unlocking opportunities

Just the other day I was re-reading one of the most influential books I’ve come across in my career, Never Eat Alone, by Keith Ferrazzi.

A master of managing relationships, a former Chief Marketing Officer at Deloitte, and Silicon Valley CEO; he is renowned for being a thought leader in building your network, and more importantly, keeping it strong.

One of my favourite lines from the book is;

“If 80% of success is just showing up, then 80% of building and maintaining relationships is just staying in touch”

These days, we are so overwhelmed with information and overflowing to-do lists that it is rare for people to be in a clear state of mind when making decisions…

So, naturally, when we need something we revert to the shallowest part of our memory bank and choose the first option that is most trustworthy — it’s called recency bias.

If you allow your relationships and prospects to go cold, they will inevitably choose someone else that is occupying that piece of real estate in their mind.

It can be frustrating when we see contacts of ours engage with another company in our industry, but it’s something will continue to happen if we don’t do our part.

Don’t worry, I was there too, back in my earlier days, I would always have a tinge of jealousy or frustration, if I saw people had gone to someone else for their marketing, despite knowing myself or having a conversation with me.

It was immature and naive, but a completely natural human emotion.

I know I’m not alone in having felt this at some point on time, but the important thing to do is take a step back and create awareness around why this happened, and ultimately to take responsibility.

Here’s why;

1 — I hadn’t connected with them recently, nor had I been proactive in maintaining that relationship

2 — I wasn’t marketing consistently, nor was I communicating the problems I was solving at the time, the sales process needed work — I needed to listen more than I talked)

3 — I had no idea about their existing relationship with that person, or company, and it could have been much longer, and stronger than mine, regardless of my situation with them.

4 — They may have been the perfect solution for them at that time, and, if I valued that relationship, then their success is what is most important, and I only have their best interests at heart.

5 — Most importantly, no one owes us anything, just because someone knows us, and has met with us, we are not entitled to the work, or the opportunity — we have to earn the business, and we have to deliver the outcome.

The question that I implore everybody to ask themselves when they experience this is;

“Was I putting myself out there, or was I waiting to be found?”

Anyway, as with anything, it’s a valuable lesson that has really shifted my thinking to being value driven rather than self serving (I talked about it on this podcast just a couple of weeks ago — available on Spotify and Apple Podcasts).

When we move past the idea of winning and losing work, and more about how to we find opportunities to truly help those in our network, it is phenomenal how many opportunities reveal themselves.

I find that when I’m talking with business owners about how they source work, or increase the lifetime value of existing customers, there is no system in place to do so.

Without their feet on the ground, or a strategy rooted in reality, these businesses succumb to shiny object syndrome, but I can tell you that single biggest contributor to feeling that we ‘don’t have enough’ is by only focusing on the level of new activity that is stepping in our doors.

It’s not completely our fault either, the mind is wired for seeking novelty.

If you ever feel like your lead generation or new opportunities are going cold, or not at the level that you wish them to be, I can promise you there is PLENTY that is untapped in your existing network, and it all starts with efficiently documenting opportunities and drawing visual network maps.

It’s important to recognise that we have recency bias too — spend time to go deeper and move past it.

The secret is to systemise what is already working for you from word of mouth, referrals, and existing relationships. Optimise that component of your marketing strategy, create a new baseline for the revenue attached to it, and leverage the time and resources created from this into investing in new channels that diversify and amplify your opportunities, not to take away from it.

To loop this back around to Never Eat Alone, the findings from this book are something I still revisit on an almost daily basis, despite leveraging several other marketing channels, this ensures that there is consistency, no matter the market, or the current conditions.

I’ll share a few of them below.

> It’s been said that 80% of success is just showing up. 80% of building and maintaining relationships is just staying in touch.

> To create a new relationship, people need to hear your name across three modes of communication, for example, email, phone call, and a face to face — before there is substantial recognition

> Once recognition is established, this relationship must be nurtured with a phone call, text, or email, at least once a month

> Create pillars around your connections, and monitor your levels of activity with each — Personal, Professional, Community, Strategic Partners, Existing Clients, Former Clients, Current Prospects, Cold Leads, and, Aspirational Projects (I’ll talk about this one another day, but it’s amazing)

> For Primary Relationships that you want to progress, you should have two face to face meetings outside of the office

> Secondary relationships still require 2–3 connections a year

> Social media support is amazing for ongoing relationship maintenance; supporting their posts, sharing their material or website, wishing people happy birthday, or celebrating their anniversaries. This is all made simple and easy through these platforms, and it goes a long way to keeping even the fringes of your network nice and warm.

> Build a system around this — spend a couple of hours on this initially, but beyond that, you can realistically implement this in less than 5–10 minutes a day (on average), some days may be more, some other days you may skip, dependent on your level of activity.

While I love building out higher level marketing strategies, and implementing campaigns to scale, there is nothing as satisfying as empowering people with the knowledge that there are ALWAYS opportunities in arms reach, you just need to know how to tap into them, and this is something that you can do today to build momentum.

As the saying goes, don’t wait until your thirsty to start digging the well.


Ps. I find it so rewarding when I hear the results that people get from putting the advice in these emails in place, so when you implement this and get some results, I’d love to hear about it!