It took me a few days later than usual to find my New Year’s Resolution. It’s not to lose a few more pounds (although that’s fine with me) or the other usual stuff.
This year, I’m going to protect my professional time like nobody’s business.
I’m going to make more meetings count.
I’m not going to attend cocktail hours to merely exchange business cards, but to connect.
I’m going to value the increased speed in helping someone clarify a decision, whether that is a yes or a no.
In short, everything I do has to go somewhere beyond that original meeting.
Here’s why I was inspired. I was recently in a conference call where it took the better part of an hour for me to discover that there was not a fit. Actually, scratch that. I knew it was going nowhere within 15 minutes. I was being nice for the rest of the time.
It was my fault, too. I should’ve done what the people at Sales Results, Inc. taught me, namely, to set an agenda and outline the purpose for why we were meeting (and there’s so much more to it than this, which they can teach you).
Your skills are valuable. Your thoughts are valuable. Your opinions are valuable. Those need to be channeled somewhere beyond sharing a Grande Mocha and wishing each other well. It can’t just be the answer to “what do you do?”
You have no time for tire kickers.
You have no time for people trying to get free advice off of you.
You have no time for people who don’t understand your value.
You have no time for people who are simply too paralyzed by fear or layers of bureaucracy to do anything.
Similarly, you have to ask yourself how much work you want to put into educating someone on what you do/what value you bring before they become a true lead.
That is why I have all the time in the world to educate people on how social media may play a role in their business’ success, but I have no time to educate people on the relevance of social media. It’s here. It’s not going anywhere. And if you don’t understand that by now, I doubt anything I say will change your mind to the contrary.
And even if I do convince you, does that mean you’ll want to get started? Ha. No. You’ll be skeptical, thinking this whole social media thing is a passing fad. Let’s not kid each other.
It’s amazing how some people stroll into networking settings and brag about the 20 groups they’re members of. That’s not smart. That’s inefficient and throwing at a dartboard blindfolded. The way I see it, you should work to identify the very core groups you want to be a part of that are right for your brand’s mission.
People who expect you to do a dog-and-pony show at the initial meeting are misguided. It’s not a time for that. It’s a time to learn about one another – and that goes both ways. Go to each other’s website. See each other’s LinkedIn profiles. As much as I hate people who say, “Google me,” you should, well, Google them, their company and other relevant companies in their space.
What all this has to do with branding is that you say a lot by the company you keep and how you approach that company. Make the process of making your strategic partnership team really, really hard.
Make the process of being your client a selective process. Not everybody can get into your club and that’s a good thing. So stop right now by saying a good client/referral for you is “Anybody who….” No. Stop. It’s not anybody. It’s a specific type of person. Drill down and know it so you can recite it by heart. Again, it is your TIME and there’s only so much of it to go around. So why the F*** would you give it away to anyone who wants it?
This spreads to social media as much as anything. Content creation, curation, distribution, research, reporting, etc. is not something you easily slip into your week, especially when you sit down to a meaningful blog post or scripting a video. Unless you want to just pump out a bunch of posts without meaning or understanding for how it fits within the overall brand. I personally don’t prefer that.
The larger picture of this is that having no discipline with who gets your professional time means those you care about in your personal time may suffer. Oh, I’m sorry I couldn’t be home by dinnertime, honey. I was taking a long meeting with a prospect who, as it turned out, wasn’t a prospect. Or I was on the phone for an extended period of time advising someone who has no business running a business but wants me to be their therapist rather than their marketing strategist.
That’s not their fault. It’s yours. For not screening them quicker. For being a pushover with someone who wants to pick your brain free of charge. For not steering them online to check out your business or sending them material in advance of a conversation. For cheating yourself out of the time it takes to create something people can value and share and talk about. You said Yes to people who didn’t deserve it and now you have to tell someone or something you love No.
That’s the bigger complication of liberally giving out your time without any rhyme or reason. And seeing it as more precious is exactly what the most important professional and personal people in your life deserve.