Sometimes, following the theme of my recent posts, using what you’ve got involves who you know. Again, it may seem unfair, but that is the way of the world. And, it is no secret that who you know is critical to success in getting a job, selling your services/products, and in many other ways. One can’t be shy about reaching out to anyone one knows and seeing where that leads them. When we first started our trial consulting business, Melissa and I made a list of who we knew, including long term family friends and work contacts. We called and set meetings with anyone and everyone who would see us. And, as a part of the meetings, we asked for referrals, such that, pretty soon, our handful of contacts looked like a spider’s web of networked connections. I can only think of 1 first level contact who ever hired us. But, those to whom we were referred have hired us and referred us to still others. Had we not started with who we knew, we would never have gotten out of the starting block. In counseling young professionals, I have sometimes observed a reluctance to “impose” on people they may know when on a job search (or for getting clients for us when they worked for us). But, those of us who have some gray hair know this is part of how things work and such contacts are great to use to build a network. And, these contacts can also provide a friendly, less threatening environment to practice interview skills and gain confidence before meeting with people who are unfamiliar. Again, use it if you’ve got it!
When David and I started Magnus Research Consultants in 1993, we literally knocked on the doors of anyone and everyone who would meet with us. I am lucky to be from a small town, Fort Myers, Florida and my family has been there since the 1920s. In Fort Myers, my last name has always given me an edge, especially among long time residents. My brother, Frank, was helpful to David and me when we first started our business by introducing us to some of his influential friends, attorneys who were/are our “target market.” Thanks to Frank, who accompanied David and me to meetings with his friends, we developed powerful contacts who have become long term clients of ours. As difficult as it was for David and me to ask for help, we asked. And asked. And asked. Each person with whom we met gave us names of friends and colleagues with whom we then met. I also called on parents of my childhood friends, who had achieved prominence in their careers, and asked for help. I used every available resource I had and so did David. Instead of sitting around and waiting for business to come to us, we went to the source of business: attorneys and high level executives who had the ability to hire us or who knew someone who would hire us. We knew we had the ability to do excellent work, but we also knew that, without meeting the people who could retain us, there would be no work to do.