During a recent evening meeting with the EBA Board and the Executive Committee and as a result of the spirited discussion and brainstorming that ensued, this post was conceived and is being written for you, our Members. The purpose of this post is to encourage — (read: push) — all our members to take action and claim all the intrinsic benefits the EBA has to offer to its membership. At this meeting, we realized that although our group has achieved an admirable level of camaraderie, it may not be entirely clear how any one member can reach out and ask for (or provide) assistance from (or to) another member.
What follows is a list of the concepts that were articulated by some of our strongest and most successful members. We encourage you to read this list again and again and perhaps pay special attention to those suggestions below which you may otherwise disregard because… as we all know… doing the SAME things over and over and expecting a DIFFERENT result is, by definition, just INSANE.
- SPEAK UP and ASK! Empower yourself by reaching out to any Member and arrange a direct 1-on-1 call, meet for coffee or visit their office. Don’t be shy or assume you are imposing. Yes, we are all busy but we also all made the conscious choice to get involved in the EBA knowing it is a give-and-take process. Each member needs to put the onus on him or herself to take the action necessary to achieve his or her goals and working with our co-members is not above this. You miss 100% of the shots you never take (and some clichés are continually recycled because they are 100% on the money). If you are shy, uncertain or decide not to reach out to your co-members, just realize that’s YOUR choice and that you’re likely limiting yourself to things that will only fall in your lap.
- GET YOURSELF IN THE MIX. Be accessible, get out there and insert yourself into the proverbial conversation. Write an article. Share some content. Tell all your members what you are working on, how you helped your clients. Explain what problems you solve. You need to be your own advocate here and continually remind your co-members what it is you do and how darn good you are at it.
- YOU GIVE… AND THEN YOU GET. Without singling anyone out, some of our more established and successful members are naturals at this whole networking thing. Watching them in action, you know they were born to grow their business and are innately adept at building their professional reputation….it seems this stuff comes as easy to them as getting out of bed in the morning. They are at the center of their own whirlwind of activity and they reap the benefits with a strong, steady stream of referrals. People are thinking of that person because it was that person who thought of them, first. The lesson to be learned from them, as they well know themselves, you have to give, to get.
- GET LinkedIn AND Linked-up. I’m hoping most of you will skip this section, if only because you are already ‘linked in’ with all your fellow EBA Members and part of the EBA LinkedIn Group. The power of LinkedIn cannot be overstated and its capabilities are growing every day… however that is beyond the scope of this post (hint: more to come on this). Suffice it to say there is simply no reason that you should NOT have your profile up and be linked to all our members, the EBA LinkedIn Group and in the interest of “tough love”, if you have not gotten this done by now, I fear you may be missing the boat entirely. Yes, it is that important.
- MAKE EFFORT TO DEVELOP KEY RELATIONSHIPS. The old “80-20 Rule” often finds a way to prove itself as a cosmic law-constant, over and over again. In my own experience, I’ve found that 80% of those I can do business with, in a consistent and meaningful way, are about 20% of the membership. So a critical component of my strategy is to take the time to identify and cultivate those key relationships that work for me (and for them).
- DON’T IGNORE INDIRECT REFERRAL SOURCES. The true power of networking and getting your identity out there is NOT in getting A (singular) referral. One of the most productive resources are indirect referral sources — those third parties who may not need your services themselves but rather can direct (potentially) a continuous stream of clients your way. The old adage of “Give a man a fish, he eats for a day; TEACH a man to fish, he eats for life” is demonstrative of how indirect referral sources can exponentially exceed the benefits of a direct referral.
- IT TAKES TIME TO BEAR FRUIT. As we closed this discussion, Rich Silvia and I confessed our continual sensitivity to a self-imposed duty to ensure each member was benefiting from the group. To our surprise, the group expressed a collective belief that what we should be concerned about is whether we have members who take it upon themselves to make things happen for themselves, professionally. As a corollary to this, once each of us takes ownership of the opportunities the EBA provides, know it takes some time. If you remain determined and can temper focused persistence with a confident patience, you will see your efforts will bear meaningful relationships that will generate business, referrals and other opportunities for you on your ascent to success.
Content Contributed By JohnAraneo