Plant with care

Plant with care, weed with purpose

Long ago I was advised I should be hanging on to those business cards … ‘you never know when it may come in useful.’

Trouble is, I’ve just taken a look at around 25yrs worth of hanging on to business cards and I’ve come to the conclusion that 60% of these need to go…

‘Have you reached-out?’ I hear you say.

‘Don’t wait for the business, drop them a line with an update … include them in your newsletter, stay in mind.’ Yes, yes and I hear you again… but no.

Hey, I’ve been there, done that and I’m not so sure today’s networker has intentions for the long-term. Taking the advice though, half of those I included in updates had moved on, or sadly died. Half again seem to be only ‘in it’ for the now, so no. I’ve new purpose.

These days there are a core bunch of connections with whom I have a natural affinity. I see most of them on a regular basis and I value their advice and support.

I’ve learned over the years to select your close connections and cultivate with care. I look past the commercial engagement and seek more intrinsic values. I’m happy now to be comfortable in my shoes, happy where I sit in this place. Is this so bad?

So selecting my mates, my business connections, those whom I am prepared to spend time with in getting to know and trust is important to me. These are the people I can count on ‘for the journey.’

‘So what happens when someone else reaches out to you, do you accept the invitation?’ I hear you ask.

Sure, we need to engage and be prepared to offer help when it’s required, I believe that’s part of human nature, although if in ‘follow-up’ (and we all follow-up, don’t we?) the communication is lost, then I’m a little more mercenary on with whom I gift my time these days.

For me, cultivating new connections in business is a little like gardening. I’m more prone to plant and care more selectively, I’ve also developed a passion for recovering the space taken up by anything/anyone simply coming along for the ride …

He’s no one hit wonder

 

Ben, it’s great to hear you enjoyed the holiday. Welcome back.

 

“Thanks, Charlie, I did enjoy the time away from the factory, I took the opportunity to do a lot of thinking …”

Holidays are good for thinking Ben, have another biscuit with the tea … what do we need to discuss?

Ok, I’m thinking of offering our tailor made line online, you know, the additional income stream you talked about? Networking is great although I’m not getting a lot of ‘hits’ with my engagement – any reason why do you think?”

Hits Ben? The online store is a great idea …

The efforts you put into your business, your people and your network are a progressive development of the ‘reliable, dependable, Ben.’ It’s about you becoming the person your contacts can rely on, not only for the so-called ‘hits’ but for direction, advice and support.

Sure, you will find and always welcome the odd single order for your fine, bespoke footwear although is that the end game here?

What do you mean? Of course, I want orders, that’s what I’m networking for isn’t it?”

Ben, anyone can buy a pair of shoes that suit the budget, we get free financial advice, accountancy solutions or websites in a box, logos for not much more than a fiver, it’s all ‘out there’ Ben.

The meaningful partnerships in business surpass all of the above. The reason those ‘in the know’ are networking is the fact that the road to fruition is that much shorter with the help of our colleagues. Even if your network is the slow-burn, the odd order here, the single referral there … think about what you are cultivating Ben.

Your scope of contacts – even over a short time networking while developing the relationships and trust is enormous. Think of the connections others have and who they are able to refer you to given the relationship. Never underestimate leverage. Think also of the advice and support, the range of services at your fingertips for the sake of caring about others a couple of hours per week.

It’s not about the ‘hits’ Ben, it’s about your leverage and quality of connections, who knows you and who may then introduce you to others.

Have faith Ben, you are no ‘one hit wonder.’

So, what else did you do on holiday apart from thinking about work?

Be you, get naked

 

‘We become part of the company that we keep, that’s for sure.’

 

I was having a conversation with a friend as we walked the local beach the other day. Brendon was up for the holiday and we were reminiscing somewhat. The dogs were doing their doggy thing and the wind was howling, but hey …

Brendon was telling me about a mutual friend, someone who was so busy playing catch-up through his social media accounts, he’d forgotten to live the life.

It’s not that Brendon was feeling neglected, it was, in fact, the understanding that our mutual friend was shadowing the life others, being led through a series of likes/follows/retweet/shares, whatever else.

So why do you think that is Brendon? Is it ‘the business he pursues?’

‘Undoubtedly it’s business but there is something else Charlie. I say that because he just does not see the good around him, what he has already, ‘it’s as if he is missing out if he’s not in touch.’

I kind of agreed, and I said so. We are all aware of the potential for new business with most entrepreneurs on-line and looking for the opportunity we’re surely missing one important point, aren’t we?

The news is in fact you.

It’s not what others have or what they offer or might do or save or sell or enhance …

Let’s use the social for what it is – as a sounding board for flavours. We need to offer our own newsworthy flavours and if we are to embrace the net for what it’s worth – let’s make it work for us and stop simply being ‘there’ for everyone else. Resist the temptation to be first, the envy that comes with missing out on the latest pic., the conversation. Be you.

So … what’s holding him back?

Most likely fear I said, fear that he won’t make it, anxiety that he is not ‘one of them’ and fearful that if he tries to be so and offers naked ambition, he may not be seen at all.

Hey, why be led by the flow of popular opinion when you have so much individuality to share with others? Show me a room full of naked ambition (ok, transparent then) individuals who are happy to confront their fears, those who are happy with that. Give me that option anytime.

Oops.

The dog had demonstrated her own needs and as I bent toward the sand to clean up after her I realised what I had become myself …

No, I can see what you are saying, right now is not my true vocation …

I could see what Brendon meant now. I could relate to that, I’d become a product of my own network. We are what we practice, the reality is, we become part of whom we spend the most time with.

Don’t we?

Vision through friends

The coffee was cold, cake a memory and as I prepared to leave the office the mobile sprang to life with text:

‘Just sent you an email, come back to me!’

The number was familiar although ‘nothing current.’ Being curious, I did of course proceed as instructed and checked ‘mail’ anyway.

Hey Charlie, it’s Jackie here!

‘Some of the kids here are with you in spirit, see the attached please and let me know what you think!?’

Now I don’t know about you but whenever I’m engaging an unfamiliar email and being instructed to check the attachment, I’m a little cautious …

Still, I was curious and didn’t ‘bin’ this one but parked it, then dispatched the remainder of the (now ice) coffee and escaped with the boss (dear dog.)

It was some time later I’d recovered from the latest ‘trek’ and approached the kitchen for refreshment once again …

‘Did you get the message from Jackie?’ A distant shout came from Sue.

Memory was restored! ‘Jackie’ was the Carer for an elderley some-time client, someone I catch up with much too sparingly, only occasionally.

I returned to the email and scanning the contents immediately felt more positive about prospects.

The note began:

Hey Charlie, Jackie here, a note from the school front …

We had a sit down with the kids today (six 5 year olds) and we asked them to play along …

‘First we asked them to close their eyes until the count of ten and to think about what they were good at. We also asked the kids to think about where they would like to be when they grow up?’

”As you can imagine, the room erupted with shrieks of enthusiasm and the first hand that shot up I immediately thought of you:’

‘I’m really good at helping people.’ Came the answer from said 5 year old. ‘When I grow up I want to be surrounded by my friends.’

So, why tell me this Jackie?

I needed just a minute before the ‘penny finally dropped’ …

Jackie had been reminded of something by her young companion … something that she and I had discussed many times in the past. We’d talked how Carers needed help just like everyone else. The most helpful of people need their friends and just a little support at times.

Jackie also knew that the network of friends was one of the reasons I enjoyed my business so much and hence she was so taken aback by the youngsters comments, it became the reason she decided to make contact.

Sometimes kids have a great way of enlightening us to some of life’s really important stuff, like the mutual benefits that come through helping friends.

I was happy … my first testimonial of 2017, even if it was from a 5yr old!

 

Trust the bun.

I was mulling over my schedule. It was 6am and I’d already jumped in the car for the first meeting of the day, a rendezvous with business colleagues and guests.

There are times when I do wonder of my intentions. ‘What’s it about?’ I ask myself.

It can be tough working from home …

I’ve been working ‘for myself’ for the best part of a decade and still the imaginary violin comes out to play whenever I’m begrudging the fact I don’t anymore have the opportunity of a smile with office peers, banter with opinionated colleagues and the routines that, as part of my lost ‘corporate world’ would see us driven by familiar, similar targets or goals.

‘I’m too old for this.’ Came the reply to my original question to self.

‘I should have stayed in bed.’ I uttered.

As if by autopilot I’d negotiated my way to the venue. The imaginary violin had now retired and I followed the scent of coffee to discover a very lovely Boston bun … set aside, especially for me.

Soon enough we’ve a lively room full of familiar faces. Some jostling for preferred position, exchanging stories, others supporting through offers of help, opinion, direction and discussion. All driven by the desire to help others.

‘Kinda glad I arrived early.’ 

This is of course why I’m here, to be in the room and discover how I can help develop trust.

I’m driven to witness the young and the not so young confirm that ‘what it is all about’ is the people. The network peer group, our resource centre. Where anyone in business with a notion of developing the market is able to connect, pick the brains of learned colleagues and chew the fat. Or in my case, the cake.

Developing a trusted network of colleagues is a fantastic resource for any growing business, any level business.

‘I reached for the hand of an approaching familiar face:

Welcome to the board. Your very own board of Directors.’ I suggested.

‘Put the cake down first Charlie.’ Retorted my colleague.

That could cost you my dry cleaning!’