Recently I was invited to meet a new networking group. The first person I met told me, ‘I don’t speak to customers,’ with a please-go-away glint in his eye. His female associate said, ‘that’s right, he’s great at website design, but he doesn’t like talking to customers.’
It made me wonder why she hadn’t left him safely chained up in his virtual world, far, far away from the real-life people; with real-life egos to offend. I wanted to tell him to relax; there was no danger of me becoming one of his customers.
What was his associate thinking? Bringing him to a networking event was like inviting the Terminator to a peace rally – at best pointless; at worst, potentially deadly – the lifeless bodies of dead opportunities strewn around him.
By an almost spooky coincidence, I came across another website designer (on social media), who took our introduction as an opportunity – to immediately shoot holes in one of my websites. Well, at least he recognised the opportunity. Not that he had it for long.
Even spookier: I am actually in the market for a new website!
Now I’m not bashing web guys or girls. I have the greatest respect for web wizards. Especially since when I started out in business, digital space was what you had between your fingers, and the web was what Spiderman had between his.
Things have changed a lot in that time. Moreover, some things haven’t. Like the need to attract customers to your business and the ability to recognise them!
Clearly, these two gentlemen were interested in this. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have been putting themselves in the physical, or online, networking space. It’s a pity then that having taken that step, it didn’t work out for them because they had no idea how to maximise the opportunity presented.
It’s easy to look on and cringe, or chortle, at those two scenarios. You and I can smugly reassure ourselves that, of course, we would never so obviously muck up the chance of interesting a hot prospect in our business.
The truth is, all of us, at some point, have missed an opportunity and are very likely oblivious to the fact. The pain of no gain can show up much later, after the fact. The more times we prod that pain point with the pointy stick of lost opportunity, the more it hurts – our business.
Being on the point (sorry, pun phobics) with identifying an opportunity, in any environment, is a habit honing exercise, enhanced by practice and experience. And it takes skill to translate an opportunity to an outcome. A win-win outcome.
Not being on point, can be a business breaker. Crack out the Panadol!
Michelle and I have worked together for over a decade now. Sure, we’re sisters.
However, the reason I work with her is that Michelle is one of the best business strategists I know, and I have been privileged to know some amazing ones.
One discipline Michelle insists on (she can be a bit bossy), is that we dedicate a proportion of our time each week, to talking about creating and maximising opportunities – for our business, our clients, and our Dragon Sisters collaborators.
Michelle has a little list of what I call her Dragon Disciplines relating to opportunities.
DD #3 resonates here: “Your expert may not be the right person to develop all opportunities”.
If you’d like a copy of her list of Dragon Disciplines, drop me a note, and I’ll send you a copy.
Yvonne Toering is a business development consultant who has worked with leading organisations and brands including Securicor Group, Vodafone Group, ASDA as well as most of the UK’s major high street retail chains including Marks and Spencer Plc, the National Health Service, Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Mars UK, and the Grand Metropolitan Group, owners of Burger King, Smirnoff, Samuel Webster Brewers, Haagen Daas, Cinzano and other iconic brands.