ALS Consulting

Solving The Unsolvable In 3 Steps

Legend tells us that Alexander the Great visited the city of Gordia, in asia minor, before he conquered most of the known world. The shrine in the city held an oxcart that was fastened to a pole using an intricate knot with no loose ends. It had been prophesied that the one who could solve this Gordian knot would become the king of the world. The Alexander solution to the problem of the Gordian knot has become a timeless metaphor for the solution of intractable problems. It was, according to himself, his greatest victory.

 

There are actually two different solutions to the Gordian knot with somewhat different implications. Aristobulus tells us that Alexander removed the pole from the oxcart and thereby exposed the loose end of the knot. This implies that sometimes, the way forwards is to look for a clever shortcuts that cut through all the difficult steps. The other account, the classical one, from Plutarch tells us that Alexander used his sword and cut the knot in two. This would invite us to look for an elegant out of the box solution, simple and resolute or perhaps even a brute force solution. The key to either of these solutions is to look at the problem from a new perspective or to redefine the goal.

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Don’t Kill The Deal By Pursuing “The Perfect Contract”

I am sure we have all experienced that one deal that was done on a handshake, and ultimately became the deal “from hell” that turned into a money pit. Perhaps it was as simple as a customer signing your proposal that might have the innocuous wording of “we strive to make our customers happy,” yet it turns into “scope creep” (because the customer never became happy) and you wind up spending more time, effort and resources than what you were paid (if you were paid at all). Many of us have also experienced a deal making process that included so many provisions for every possible scenario, that crafting the agreement became an obstacle to getting the deal done.

So, what do you do? Do you try to have a 30-page contract that contemplates every terrible scenario (and risk scaring off your customers with an over-reaching agreement) or do you leave out critical issues and risk that an agreement casually entered into will cost you more than it is worth? Sometimes, well thought out agreements of only a few pages can do the trick; addressing the critical needs of both parties and outlining a process for revision that works for all.

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Helping Others

In previous articles, I’ve mentioned the importance of helping others as a significant part of your networking efforts.  Many people have trouble with this and feel that the only way to help somebody is to provide them with a new client or prospect.  And, they are uncomfortable providing a referral to people they may not know that well.  

Here are some ideas to keep in mind for helping people you meet when you want to begin a new collaborative relationship.

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Don’t You Forget About Me

In previous articles, I’ve discussed the steps required to cultivate a good relationship with a center of influence (COI).  Probably one of hardest aspects of this relationship building is keeping in touch and staying on the forefront of your colleagues’ minds. It can be a daunting task to keep in touch with many centers of influence.

The key to accomplishing this is being very organized and finding opportunities for many “little touches” throughout the month that benefit your COI’s.  

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Networking 201: Filtering

One of the biggest challenges people face in “networking” is finding the right people to network with on a long term basis.   You have to figure out if the people you are meeting are going to be good networking connections or bad ones.  This is the Filtering process.  It should be embraced, rather than feared and avoided.  The following are two very typical  problems people have, and the solutions to avoiding and navigating them.

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Are You Boring?

Are you a rock star?

Are you a professional athlete?

Are you in the Special Forces?

If you answered “no” to those questions, which you probably did, I have news for you.  Your job is boring.  That’s right.  Nobody is really excited about what you do for a living.   Did you ever see somebody interviewed on a late night talk show to discuss whole vs. term life insurance?  Do they discuss marketing and branding for small to medium sized companies?  Does Page Six in the NY Post show photos of tech support people getting coffee and pushing their kids in a stroller?  The answer to those questions is “no”.

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Following Up, Part 2

One of the most crucial aspects to networking is having a good plan to follow up.  It is important to to do this with the people you’ve met and most importantly with referrals that have been offered to you.

Referrals Offered
Yogi Berra is rumored to have said, “If somebody offers you a referral, take it!”  I recently attended a high end networking event where a group of us participated in an exercise where we each offered introductions to other people at the table.  After listening carefully to who the people at my table wanted to meet, I offered a specific introduction opportunity for everybody at the table.  The only catch to the introduction was that they had to send me an email with their contact information in order to get it.  Out of nine people, I only received one email.  I retold this story a few times and learned this is a common problem that everybody experiences.  What this tells me is that there are many people that are networking but not doing it well.  Use this knowledge as a way to separate yourself from the pack.  If you become good at following up, then you will earn a reputation as a great networker and everybody will want to work with you and bring you introductions that will eventually lead to new business.

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Networking 101, Class 6

The Most Effective Tactic For Following Up

After meeting a new contact at a networking event, everybody knows it’s important to follow up and to do it quickly.  The key to this simple effort is to do it in a way that achieves the desired result.  And that is to arrange a meeting and establish a new networking relationship.

Here is the situation.  You were at event, which could be a private networking group or a large function and you met a great person.  You enjoyed speaking with them and you feel they could be a great networking colleague.  They could be one of the three types of networking capital, a Connector, a Center of influence or a Hidden gem.  Either way, you want to meet this person again.  The conventional wisdom offers good advice but misses a key point.  Everybody agrees that a follow up email should include the following:

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