In today’s market where most businesses seem to be running at full throttle, the thought of reaching out to contacts without a specific reason is often neglected.
The classic rationale for not reaching out to one’s network comes with many excuses.
“I don’t have time this week.”
“I don’t want to bother them.”
“They are probably too busy to talk.”
“I don’t know what to say without coming across too salesy.”
I get it. Smart professionals can come up with “justified” reasons to not reach out to their network. Here is the problem with that rationale; this type of mindset can shift from a temporary way of thinking to a more permanent habit. That permanent habit will often lead to an anemic pipeline which leads to flat or decreased monthly revenue.
In the professional services world, the inclination to tell rather than ask tends to be the norm in many conversations led by experts trying to win business from prospective clients. It is an automatic mode of communication for many subject matter experts (SMEs).
It seems logical. They want to be the person with all the answers, yet often before they understand the client's needs and problems.
Photo by Matteo Vistocco
It was not even 90 days after I started working for Deloitte’s West Coast forensic accounting team when I attended their national sales retreat in Phoenix, AZ. There were hundreds of talented business development professionals from all of Deloitte’s practices areas doing what they do best, networking. I was sitting next to one of the top revenue-generators in the consulting practice at the awards dinner who had just left the stage after receiving acknowledgment for his promotion to the Director level. An honor that is hard to earn as a non-practicing professional at Deloitte. I congratulated him and asked what he did to reach that level. His answer was simple. “I spent the first year focusing most of my time and energy building relationships internally at the firm.”
I have been enjoying a loving relationship with my wife, Aja, for more than 6 years now. I would like to attribute that to being the perfect husband, but she often reminds me that we have a great relationship despite my bad habits that she must deal with. The most egregious habit is not listening to her. I always find this one hard to believe since it is such an important part of my profession, however, Aja reminds me that it would be nice if I actively listened to her as well as I do with my clients.
It was the winter of 2020; I was on a road trip with a good friend, Greg Resnick, driving across several states in the US in search of the ultimate ski conditions. A 6-week ski road trip with nothing to worry about except for which town to visit and which ski resort to enjoy. One day we were driving in congested traffic, and I could feel my blood pressure begin to rise. Too many cars and bad drivers were delaying the start of a perfect powder day at Alta. I started to get impatient and make loud and inappropriate remarks at the drivers who were slowing us down. Greg then said something that has stuck with me ever since. “Relax and slow down, my friend. We will get there 10 minutes later than expected, and that is okay. Trying to get those 10 minutes back is not worth the risk.”
If you live in California, you are probably an expert on understanding the AQI (Air Quality Index) by now. A measurement that tells you whether it is safe to go outside during the fire season.
Californians are in the throes of enduring yet another challenging fire season which seems to worsen year after year. Last year was a record season in California since fire seasons started getting recorded in 1932. Over 9,917 fires burned close to 4.5 million acres of land last year. Understandably, many locals are cashing in on their overly priced homes and moving to other parts of the US where they can breathe clean air throughout the year.
Those who stay are having to accept that it is a new cost of living in a state that still offers more pros than cons. As frustrating and uncomfortable as it is, people adapt and figure out how to get through this time of year. The ones who don’t adjust either leave the state or remain incredibly miserable throughout the fire season.
We are experiencing one of those incredibly hot summers in California that makes me jealous of all the people who own pools. The pools that allow you to dive into the deep end and enjoy the cool refreshing water rather than the ankle-deep inflatable kid pools that quickly warm up to the outside air temperature.
In a proper pool, swimming in the shallow end is fine for many occasions. It is safe and easy. When approaching the deeper water, it requires more skill and focus, yet with greater payback when you can enjoy cooler temperatures, especially during those hot days.
Developing business relationships is very similar to swimming in pools. You have contacts in the shallow end and in the deep end.
As we approach Father’s Day, I pinch myself thinking about how lucky I am to have two beautiful children who need me and love me (most of the time😉) daily. I often take this supportive role as a parent for granted, and yet it is incredibly satisfying to know that these kids depend on me. It keeps me sharp and motivated to continue to grow my business knowing that by the time they reach college, I will have to take out a second mortgage if I do not.
…One of my favorite quotes from my former boss and National Sales Leader at Deloitte, Tom Lutz.
Even though Tom sees talent and experience as important attributes to be successful in growing a business, he always falls back to the most important work habit – staying consistently active in the market.
This basic rule of thumb seems simple, yet why is it hard for professionals to follow? Why do so many talented professionals fall into the “best-kept secret” category?
Going to college can teach you a lot of important things, and one of the biggest lessons in business that I learned was when I was in my third year at college. That said, it was not at school rather at home during the summer break.