In the past few posts, I’ve been outlining the best ways to leverage yourself with networking. In addition to getting out there regularly and having a loaded business gun so you are ready to make the most of a new connection, you also need to have the proper, open-minded attitude. In other words, you need to toss preconceptions about what type of people you want to connect with or what kind of opportunities you’re hoping to find. Some of the best connections and opportunities arise where you least expect them.
For instance, a long, long time ago a candle maker and a soap maker found themselves married to sisters. As brothers-in-law, they saw each other frequently but never talked to each other about their businesses because they created two different things. It took their astute father-in-law knocking them over the head to realize that what they did was actually very similar—they both produced tallow and fat based products sold to the home retail market. They decided to go ahead and try combining their efforts by selling both products types at each sales call and putting their individual strengths where it would do the company the most good. Within a couple decades they were one of the largest companies in Cincinnati. The simple candle and soap makers became some of the richest men in the region, something they were not likely to accomplish on their own.
Now their company, Proctor and Gamble, is known around the world and boasts sales near the $40 billion mark. And to think that initially they didn’t believe they had anything to offer the other! Opportunities are plentiful. You just have to get past the standard assumptions, think creatively, and consider ideas from many angles.
So, the next time you’re introduced to someone or an idea comes your way that gives you that “not my thing” feeling, stop and give it a couple minutes and see if you can’t come up with a way you could benefit each other. You never know what you might come up with. Keeping an open mind gives you so many more chances to multiply your finances, as well as business partnerships and friendships. You’ll be surprised at how often positive things develop if you just give them a little consideration.
As I’ve mentioned, networking and constantly getting to know new people is absolutely imperative, but those efforts are practically useless if you aren’t set up to develop a chance meeting from a couple minutes chatting to a long term relationship. The ammunition you should have in your “gun” might include anything from professionally designed business cards to a well crafted tag-line. The key is to have it ready and on hand when you meet your next great connection.
A business card is a given but in this day and age you need to hand people more than just a phone number. They will expect an email, a website and other online information. If you haven’t done so already, build a solid online presence, even if it’s just a one page website with basic information and links to other things you or your business are involved in. I also suggest looking into getting a LinkedIn account, creating a Facebook page, starting a Twitter account, or writing a blog. You’ll need to investigate which options will work best for what you’re doing and then spend some time forging them into the ammunition you need.
If it makes sense for your business, consider investing in promotional items. It can be anything from pens, magnets, or small gadgets related to your business that are easy to carry and hand out so people have a reminder of you and what you do. When at shows or conventions, have informational materials ready for those times when you can’t get in much more than your tag-line.
In addition, be ready to give back and help others. The more you assist others in their personal or business goals, the better they will remember you and the more willing they’ll be to assist you in your endeavors. Nothing in your arsenal will have more of an impact than a little gratitude and a positive image. Put this together with a solid on-line presence and plenty of ready contact information and you will have a truly well loaded business gun.
Chance meetings have the most amazing potential for you and your goals but to take advantage of these, as yet, unrevealed prospects you need to get out there and give chance meetings the opportunity to happen. I once made a million dollar profit on an apartment building after receiving a call from a guy I had met briefly only once before. He couldn’t come up with the full down payment for the building and just happened to remember our conversation and so called me to see if I would like to take over the purchasing contract for him. Our meeting was completely unanticipated but turned into a million dollar profit!
What did I do to make this happen? I just put myself out there, willing and actively trying to connect with new people. It’s all about how you present yourself and the words and ideas you put out there that will stick in people’s memory after you’ve parted ways. Be confident, be attentive and let people know what you do. Let them see your passion.
In other words, just leverage yourself, making yourself available to meet new people wherever you are. Use your personality to make an impression and keep a keen ear open whether it’s at a party, a business function, or just standing in line at the grocery store. You never know what it will lead to or how it might help you achieve your goals that much quicker.
At the big fundraiser my wife and I hosted last week for Utah’s governor, we brought in an entertainer and speaker, Jason Hewlett (see more about Jason at jasonhewlett.com). He has a very unique show he puts on. Through stories, impersonations, songs and more he speaks about how each of us has a particular gift to offer and how he himself turned his talent for entertaining into a gift he shares with the great variety of people he now performs for. Everyone at the fundraiser, including myself, was absolutely wowed by his show. It’s obvious that he not only has a talent for entertainment but a serious passion for it as well.
From a young age, Jason knew what his gift was and carved out a very successful career using it. But most of us aren’t able to identify our talents so easily or we get sidetracked by life’s responsibilities and quickly lose sight of what truly moves us. If that is where you are right now, take a look at Chapter 5 of my book, How To Ignite Your Passion For Living. The Chapter titled “Turning Your Dreams Into Reality” is filled with ideas and exercises to help you discover or rediscover your gift and your passion.
Jason Hewlett took his inclination for humor and entertainment and turned it into inspirational entertainment about his experiences withreaching dreams and goals. No matter what your passion is, you can turn it into a vocation. You can do what you love for a living and love the work you do. Identifying your passion is just the first step but, in the end, it is the most important step you take.