In all the years I’ve been around the networking industry, I’ve been fascinated by how often we are willing to have the same conversations. Year after year, even between the same two people. One friend and I seem to have had the same conversation running for almost ten years.
The weird thing is, neither of us are bored. It always circles back to how to find prospects. Last month I was working on creating a lead generation campaign for a client. I was talking to several internet marketing companies. One of them created a fancy proposal, sent it over for me to review, set up a conference with their marketing team and tech guy – we were more than half a dozen of us in a web conference room and after all the how are you, how’s your weather preliminaries, they said they were sure they could generate what the client wanted (business prospects) as soon as we answered one simple question: Who’s the ideal target candidate.
Well, the whole scene went downhill from there. I had regretted saying rather snappishly the week before to another marketing firm: Well, if I could tell you that we’d all be rolling in dough and wouldn’t be having this conversation. That comment was not particularly well received and I admit, it was a bit snotty. But I get tired of paying people for their expertise when it turns out I’m the one with the answers, and I especially get frustrated if my answers aren’t, in my opinion, good enough.
From there, it’s often speculation. Back to the conversation my friend and I have been having for ten years. Who is the ideal prospect and how do you find them? At one point we decided to ask everyone we talked to whether they were entrepreneurial as kids – Newspaper route? Sell Girl Scout cookies? Fundraising for school projects? I sold greeting cards door-to-door when I was about 10 years old.
We found a lot of entrepreneurial adults were entrepreneurial kids. Good place to start. It’s an interesting thing to think about. What makes an entrepreneur? Willingness to take a risk? Believing in oneself? Open-mindedness to new ideas? And, if someone possesses these qualities, what makes some people act on those tendencies, and others just think about them, or get burned after attempting a project or two?
Wikipedia defines an entrepreneur
An entrepreneur is a person who has possession of an enterprise, or venture, and assumes significant accountability for the inherent risks and the outcome. It is an ambitious leader who combines land, labor, and capital to often create and market new goods or services.
Sounds like exactly what we’re looking for. And, in our industry, we have a blueprint for people to follow, so they don’t have to be the Lewis and Clark of business (that’s what the definition above brings to mind for me!). So, we need to learn how to talk about what we do so that people understand the benefits simply, and if they’re entrepreneurial, they’ll take an interest, and at least see if what we have might be a fit for them. So, the next post will be about how to ask the questions that get you closer to knowing if you’ve got an entrepreneur in your midst, and if so, how to ‘handle’ them so you can next steps without terrifying you, or them!