At age 38 many professionals, like lawyers and accountants in private practice, have to make a decision about whether to strive for a high income career based on their own client relationships or to solidify their job prospects dependent on relationships with employers who pay them a salary in return for their work. The problem for those who opt for the job is that eventually they can be replaced by a younger person earning less. Either way, more and better business relationships are needed.
I have a number of clients in their early 30s who are in the relationship building phase of their career. And it’s a difficult phase because they are extremely busy with their work and their personal lives. The time management problem in 2018 is not a lack of time, it’s an abundance of good things to do.
The fact is that a thirty year old lawyer committed to building relationships and doing all their work will go out to lunch almost every day if invited by someone else. But that’s not what happens.
I have found that the most common impediment to relationship building [over lunch, coffee etc.] is that people do not spend enough time reaching out. Most people have a significant list of people they can approach or a list can built by networking. But they don’t do enough inviting. Reaching out more is a difference that will make a difference.
Two simple things need to be done to get you reaching out more. The first is to simply devote 15 minutes first thing each day to sending invites. The other is to spend time each day ensuring that your list is up to date. A lot of people have many business cards they’ve collected but not put into a system to make following up on the initial contact easy. People also carry names around in their mind they want to approach but don’t.
One other thing to overcome is coming to believe that meeting someone now will have any long term benefit. If you are 30 and out to lunch with someone from your cohort, there is not much chance that building this relationship will pay off now. A 30 year old does not have much expertise to offer or relationship benefits to deliver. But in eight years both will have much more to offer and if the relationship has survived, there are potential benefits for both.
So the strategy to reach the success you want in 15 years is to multiply the number of business building relationships that you own among Prospects, future Referral Sources, Clients and Partners. If you’re marketing yourself at age 30 the payback for today’s activities is way over the horizon. Of course many will pay off sooner and many never will.
The tactic that will make a difference is to raise the number of invitations you send each week to arrange business development meetings. If you’re at 3 per week now, 10 per week would be better. This focuses on quantity of meetings believing that quality will rise as you get more experience and meet more people.
On a day to day basis the important but not urgent things you can do are:
- Devote 15 minutes early each day to send invitations [Getting this out of the way early will energize you].
- Bring your Outlook files up to date to refresh everyone in there now and add those that are just in your mind now. Refresh means update the contact info.
- Get back in touch with people you’ve seen before but haven’t followed up with.
- Compose emails that you can easily use for invitations e.g. i] “Hi Bob. I enjoyed our meeting last year. Would you have time for a follow up on July 16 after work?” ii] Hi Jane. We met at our offices when you introduced your bank to the partners. Would you have time for a follow up lunch on May 6?”
Underlying this thinking is that your in-basket will always be full so there isn’t a future time when you’ll have otherwise unscheduled time to market yourself. You just have to do it. Some do to their everlasting benefit.
Jerome Shore is an Executive Coach in Toronto, Canada. Clients to look to Jerome for help with Marketing, Leadership and Stress Management. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-416-787-5555.