The Maraia Minutes
The Purpose Driven Rainmaker
Volume 12, Issue 8
I've worked with thousands of professionals during my nearly two decades in this business. From this experience, I've noticed there is a huge gap between how rainmakers follow through with people in their network and the average professional. Rainmakers are usually exceptional at follow through. To them, the very activity of following through is pregnant with opportunities to learn and also to develop more meaningful relationships.
By contrast, the average professional falls down horribly when it comes to follow through. One reason for this failure is the average professional lacks a battle-tested system for follow through. However, even if you have a great system there is often another reason for lack of follow through. Most of the time the reason for failure in follow through boils down to a failure in purpose. Most of us don't give much thought to the purpose for contacting people in our network. In fact, most follow up is virtually mindless. Or those who engage in follow through have a one-track mind: They only want to make a sale. It may seem counterintuitive, but wanting to make a sale is a very poor primary reason for contacting or maintaining contact with someone in your network.
Come again you say? You heard me right: It's a very poor primary reason for contacting or maintaining contact with someone in your network. Think about it: We've all been on the receiving end of the stock broker, insurance agent or salesman who calls us once a quarter to stay in touch. It's easy to see when they're going through the motions. Most professionals express contempt for those kinds of calls and definitely do not want to replicate that behavior. The contact itself isn't the cause of the irritation. It's the purpose for why they're calling. It's clear they only want your money and aren't genuinely interested in helping you. Now imagine every time they call they have an idea that you find extremely worthwhile. Or they offer to introduce you to someone that would be purely for your benefit. Most of us are delighted to have people calling us when they are genuinely trying to help. Sadly, this is very rare thing in the business world today.
If making a sale isn't a good primary purpose for contacting someone what is? Here are various purposes that will make you far more consistent about follow through:
- You genuinely want to help.
- You genuinely like the person you're contacting and want to connect.
- You feel like you learn a great deal from your contact.
- You value their opinion.
- You are inspired by their optimistic view of the world.
- You can't wait to share something valuable with him.
- You want to put her together with another for their mutual benefit.
- You enjoy networking (meaning developing relationships) at deeper levels.
Being more thoughtful is easy to pay lip service to and damn hard to do. That's because it must be done with intention and authenticity. As you've all heard before: You can't fake sincerity! Here are some questions to consider in approaching your contact (the "__" in the following questions) more thoughtfully:
- How many introductions have you made for the benefit of ___?
- Who do you know that ___ might like to meet?
- How many introductions have others in my firm made for the benefit of ___?
- How many introductions have your competitors made for the benefit of ___?
- Do you possess the kind of network that ___ wants access to?
- If not, what are you doing to build and develop that kind of network?
- Do your partners possess the kind of network that ___ wants access to?
- If so, who within my firm does?
- Who are the thought leaders in this industry?
- Do I have a relationship with them?
- Am I a thought leader is this industry?
- What three things is ___ most passionate about?
- If you don't know, which members of the client's executive team can you
- If you don't know, which members of your firm can you ask?
- How often do you ask ___ questions outside your area of expertise?
- What's the most important business relationship ___ has outside his
- company? Why?
- What's the most important business relationship ___ has inside his
- company? Why?
- Who are ___________ company's top acquisition targets?
- What are ___ top strategic priorities for the balance of 2009?
- What are ___ top strategic priorities for FY 2010?
- Can you make introductions for __________ at these target companies?
- If _____ left the company tomorrow who would follow him/her out the door?
- How board savvy is _____ ? How politically savvy is _____?
- What kind of important knowledge gaps might _____ possess?
- Who can you introduce _____ to who can fill those gaps?
There is nothing magical about these questions. The hard work comes in actually wanting to answer them. You can probably devise a set of your own questions that suit you even better. To have purpose driven follow through requires a candid examination of your own motives. Do you have a genuine desire to help? If so, that makes up for weak skills. One of the things we love about this work is to watch someone transform before our very eyes. We often start work with people who, at first, are cynical about this approach. We love watching them transform over time as they become more filled with purpose in their contacts. The more you infuse each contact with purpose and meaning, the more you will WANT to follow through. Going about your relationship building in this way has another big advantage: It's WAY more fun!!
Copyright 2009 Mark M. Maraia Associates