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February 2012

The Fun of Business Self-Discovery

When I started writing this article it was going to be about an interesting business project I am working on: the New Perspective Business Group School. I ended up writing about how I came to work on this project and what it means for my self-development. This article is not really about me, though it would seem to be, but rather about an ongoing process of self-discovery I am involved in for the simple purpose of finding the important, fun, productive and sustainable business and lifestyle that can give my life a purpose for the long haul. The purpose is personal. The process for getting “there,” where you start to fulfill your purpose, seems universal.

The search initially started with my technology background, adding management and business administration experience on the way, to become a business owner. About mid-way through running my now 12-year old technology consulting business, I understood that I wasn’t a businessman in the full sense of the word. I realized that while I was identifying opportunities and fixing problems in my client’s businesses, I was overlooking my own main business issue. For those familiar with Michael Gerber’s The E-Myth Revisited, I had a “technician” problem.

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Letting Go of “The Wrong People”

When engaging with a new or prospective client, one of the first things I ask for is a verbal assessment of what’s stopping his/her business from performing at the level to which he/she is committed. What’s in the way? Or to phrase it in its most casual and common form, “What’s the problem?” At some point in the conversation that follows, we come across some longstanding, persistent complaints.

When that person is in a leadership or management position, it is extremely common for one of the complaints to be about the lack of performance of those that they manage or lead (the same tendency shows up with the front-liners, but in reverse: they complain about lack of effective management or leadership). What frequently follows is how they know that what there is to do is to find the “right people”, and once that finally happens, their business will work as it’s supposed to.

In fact, I’ve recently been working with an upper-level manager of a medium-sized contracting services company who had just this issue. As it turns out however, getting the “right people” wasn’t the issue at all.

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Networking 101 Lesson 2

The underlying reason that networking is effective is that, by making efforts to help your networking partners, you build your relationships. We all prefer to interact with people we know, like, and trust, in business, as well as in all other areas of our lives.

Mistake of the Month: Uncomfortable Introductions

“Hi, I’m Joe. I sell stuff. What do you do?”

People who begin a conversation this way at networking events are uncomfortable and don’t know how to start a conversation. We all feel some pressure to take advantage of the opportunity to meet people. This opener is actually a great opportunity to calm things down and make a good impression. Answer the question if you so choose, but the point is to get to know people, not just what they do. Rather than looking for clients, you are looking for relationships, so change the conversation to something more personal. Take time to get to know them and they will immediately become more relaxed. Try to always remember that, at networking events, you are building relationships, not looking for clients. 

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