Self-Study . . .

Part of practicing yoga is practicing ethical principles, one of which is svadhyaya or self-study. It has two main meanings: one, we spend time studying yoga history, ethics, philosophy on our own, beyond a yoga asana class. Self-study also refers to observing our thoughts, actions, and habitual patterns, so we can make changes and live a deeper, connected, more purposeful life.

Often in life and in business, we don’t realize the connections between our choices and the conditions of our lives. We fail to pay attention and don’t realize how our repetitive thoughts, emotions, and behaviors create what is happening in our lives, right now. We spiral downward by blaming others, instead of looking in the mirror at ourselves with honesty and compassion.

In business development, it’s extremely beneficial to practice self-study. We can observe how we are showing up during the sales process. We can listen more carefully, understand more clearly, ask better questions to clarify what our prospect needs from us and truly see whether what we are offering them would be helpful to them.

Observing our day-to-day actions and habits, we can then adjust our behavior, watch for the effects, and notice what keeps us more connected to showing up in a more powerful and present way.

Time, Focus, Life…

I’ve been labeled the “task master”, extremely efficient, able to accomplish a lot with ease. I focus and practice staying present in each moment.

When we tap into our sense of autonomy, we gain control of our time. Even when we trade a certain amount of our time for money (aka – work). We can pull ourselves out of the rat-race, the hamster wheel of business. We can pause the hectic button at any time, and move from mindlessness, where things are happening to us, to mindfulness, where we have choice.

Meditation practice allows for an experience of time slowing. Take a few minutes to pay attention to your breath, self-regulate, and move through the day in greater dialogue with what matters to you. Choose how to invest your time, spend your time, and let go of what’s not worth your time.

Make good choices about what you value the most and direct your attention to those things. Put energy there, and be right there – fully. Being in the now with this activity – even if it’s reading, running an errand, talking with a colleague. Think to yourself, of all the things I could do, this is the thing I am doing, and I’m fully present for it. Don’t spend time regretting all the things you are not doing. Be fully present for what you’ve chosen. You can at any point stop this activity, and do something different, again fully present.

When we live life in the present moment, time slows down. We can respond with greater care to the exact precise moment, with the people involved at that point in time.

When it seems my schedule is just happening to me, it’s the perfect opportunity to take a pause and come back to this precise moment.

There are constraints: we have to be at work at a certain time, in meetings at certain times, but we generally take a passive approach to having life do us rather than us doing our lives. Don’t be at the end life wishing you spent your time in different ways. We must ask ourselves what our values are, because we can’t prioritize without knowing what’s important to us. Don’t have a vague sense of what’s important; be very clear, and it will be much easier to prioritize. Stay true to what’s important – it will keep you healthier. If it’s most important to be there for family, you’ll never be late for your family. When we are taking action in alignment with our values, there’s never friction.

It’s amazing what you can accomplish if you are laser focused in this present moment.

Networking Is Helping Others…

We often view networking as leveraging relationships to get work. This view is “us” focused rather than “others” focused. What happens we shift our view? Successful networking is helping others.

Networking events and tradeshows are great places to meet new people in order to learn enough about them and their business to know how we can help them.

How refreshing is it to meet a new person who’s curious, open, thoughtful, and helpful? When we show up as this type of person, we can find out what a good lead is for the other person, be able to send good information to them, and make warm introductions for them. When we work hard for others, they want to work hard for us. We become top of mind to them.

Now imagine our network providing us with more leads and opportunities we can handle – because we took care of them first. When we shift our perspective and realize it is not the quantity of people we meet or the number of business cards we collect, but it is about really helping a handful of key people, we can get off the hamster wheel. We can slow down, calm down, and simply succeed by helping others.

The next time we head out to network, let’s remember what we are really there to do. No more collecting business cards, giving an elevator pitch on our company, or thinking about who in the room can give you your next project. Think, “How can I get to know and help this person?” When you learn how to focus on helping others, that’s when the real networking begins. 

Developing Productivity…Our Own Way…

There are tons of advice on how to be more productive. Apps, hacks, tips, tricks…It’s endless and daunting. At some point, everyone has to figure out what works for them. Productivity can’t be at the expense of happiness, wellbeing, and work satisfaction. We aren’t robots, we are human. What actually helps people be more productive, without sacrificing happiness, job satisfaction, and overall wellness?

  • Hold yourself accountable. Do what you say you’re going to do. Don’t just hope for it, wish for it, talk about it. Just do it!
  • Adopt productive habits. Study and implement what works and what doesn’t for you.
  • Sustain your energy. Everyone needs downtime. Productive people realize this and feed their mind, body, and spirit to sustain their energy over the long-haul. Work is a marathon, not a sprint. Prioritize doing things, however small, that help recharge you so you can keep going.
  • Practice and develop strong focus. Intense focus and attention allow for higher level performance. It takes patience and practice to tune out distractions – yoga and meditation help develop strong focus.
  • Recover quickly. How we respond to endless distractions greatly impacts our productivity. We all get distracted and derailed. Highly productive people rebound quickly and get back on task.
  • Don’t react to others’ agendas. Master your own schedule and learn to say no.

Stay In Touch…

I work with a variety of architecture, engineering, and design firms on their business development strategy and implementation. While each client is different, with their own set of strengths, weaknesses, and cultural habits, there are several, reoccurring themes, that seem to present themselves that impact the firm’s business development efforts. One is consistency in staying in touch with key contacts. It baffles me how prevalent not staying in touch is.

I recently started working with a former client, who over the course of the three years of not working together, had lost touch with many of the firms very important prospects and clients. Obviously, when you don’t stay in touch with clients, you lose out on work with them. In a matter of 30 minutes, we reached out to two of the former clients via email and have reconnect meetings set with both. They were happy to hear from us. I anticipate my client will be working with both former clients soon.

I work with a different client who is very good at staying in touch. When clients leave their organization, we reach out to see if we can help them at their new organization. Often, we are delighted to get new work with a new client from a former contact. This client doesn’t have a big budget to be able to use tactics like sponsoring / attending conferences / hosting dinners, so we use phone and email – and it works brilliantly.

I work with yet another client who’s very hit/miss on staying in touch. Within our annual plan, we have a goal to send out 1 eBlast per month. Sometimes 4-5 months go by without any eBlast. The firm’s principals have weekly goals to call specific contacts – again sometimes months go by without any calls made. This up/down approach creates a feast/famine situation, and also indicates to prospects that the firm may be unreliable, inconsistent.

It’s important to put a process in place that helps you stay in touch consistently – maintain a CRM database with accurate phone numbers and email addresses. Send out periodic emails – eBlasts, individual emails, and call your prospects and clients to check in with them. Go visit with your clients over lunch or coffee, or at their office if you don’t have a big budget. Nowadays, clients are happy to have a brief Teams call to catch up. Set reminders to stay in touch.

Staying in touch is such a simple thing to do to maintain new work coming in the door.

Go Grow!

Using Referrals To Grow Your Firm…

Making use of referrals is an excellent way to open doors to new business opportunities. Sometimes when you cold-call, people don’t pay attention, and they don’t call you back. When someone can give you a warm introduction or when you can reach out to your prospect on your own and say someone referred or suggested you try for a meet/greet, you always get better results.

How do you get referrals? You consistently ask and do a good job at asking for referrals. You ask at the right time during a project. During business development meetings, consistently ask: “who do you know would be interested in knowing about us? Is anyone you are working with struggling with the services we provide? Can you give us a warm-introduction? When I reach out to this person, can I mention your name?

In order to make these asks, especially when you are first meeting someone, you have to be remarkable, you have to inspire confidence, and also give referrals to them. Share information.

Create a list of prospects that you want referrals to. When you find out someone in your network works with them, ask them for a referral. Thank them afterwards if it works out.

Be on the lookout to recommend your networking partners to people you work with. Warm-introduce and help people who help you open doors.

Treat your clients as partners. Treat your subs as partners. Treat your networking colleagues as partners. Stand out. Go Grow!

Dependability, Quality, Responsiveness, Listening, Understanding, Competence, Exceptionality…

Being Dependable – the quality of being able to be relied on. Do what you say you will do and do it well. How can my actions, and our teams’ actions, better indicate dependability for our clients and prospects?

Quality – the characteristic with respect to fineness, or grade of excellence. Of or having superior quality. Producing services of high quality or merit. How can my actions, and our teams’ actions, illustrate our attention to quality?

Being Responsive – taking action, especially readily and sympathetically to requests. In our client and prospective clients’ minds, are we being responsive? Have we set, and do we adhere to individual and organizational agreements on what it means to be responsive?

Listening – attend closely for the purpose of hearing. To pay attention. What does it mean to be a person and develop a team who listens well?

Understanding – to perceive what is meant, grasp the information conveyed, comprehend. Often, we think we understand, but we are misperceiving. What can we do to better understand, to find clarity, in what’s being conveyed to us?

Being Competent – having suitable or sufficient skill, knowledge, experience. Property qualified. Adequate but not exceptional.

Being Exceptional – unusually excellent; superior. How can we move from having competence to being exceptional, as individuals and as teams, for our organizations, our clients and prospective clients and broader communities?

Demonstrating Capability = Build Trust…

Trust is critical in selling professional services. All of us can improve our trustworthiness. We know we are trustworthy, but it’s rare for our prospects to trust us. Prospects are skeptical – they’ve been burned in the past, over-promised and under-delivered to time and time again. How do we help them trust us? Initially, to help build trust, we must demonstrate our capability. We can do this:

  • Be an expert. We have to know our stuff and their stuff. We have to understand our prospects business and what issues they are trying to solve for. Listen first, then respond by illustrating how our firm has the expertise to solve their problems.
  • Know our impact. If we want to excel at winning new clients, we have to know and demonstrate our impact. It’s similar to creating a return on investment – If you do this with our firm, this is the outcome. Or, with us, you achieve A, B, C. We have to be prepared to discuss what our prospects can expect to achieve. We also have to be honest with them about timelines, our true capabilities, etc. Many prospects are unrealistic in expectations – we build trust when we tell them their goals are unachievable in the time frame or budget allotted. If we can fully explain how our firm can positively impact the prospect, they will begin to trust us.
  • Build a shared vision. When a prospect shares where he is now, and where he is trying to go, it is our opportunity to create a path forward with solutions to his problems. We are beginning to build a shared vision of working together to solve problems for the prospective client.

Demonstrating capability is one first step in creating trust.

Reflecting Clearly…

We’ve all seen our reflections in a mirror that distorts our image. Our body is super long or wide or much shorter than we actually are. We don’t want to be like a mirror that distorts reality. We want to be able to reflect reality like the still water on a mountain lake. We often don’t reflect things clearly, and we suffer because of our wrong perceptions. When we see things or listen to others, we often don’t see clearly or really listen. We see and hear through our own kaleidoscope of preconceived opinions and project those, distorting reality even further.

We need to make our internal water still if we want to receive reality as it is and be able to reflect clearly. If we are agitated or anxious or our minds are racing to get things done, we should work to become still again. Let the feeling that will distort reality pass. Breathe in and out until we are calm again and then we can reengage in the conversation and actually see clearly and really listen. Stillness of mind is the foundation of understanding and insight. Stillness of mind is strength.

Inspired by reading Your True Home by Thich Nhat Hahn

Let Go Of Negative Projections…

When we hold negative or inadequate images of people, it will negatively affect how we relate to them. In relationship, we don’t actually relate to another person. We are only ever relating to our internalized projections of others. I don’t say “hi” to you, I say “hi” to the person I think you are. Who I think you are impacts how I treat you and the kind of relationship we have. This is true of all relationships.

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