A couple of months ago I had lunch with a friend and past client. This gentleman was moaning like a cow in labor. For the record, this person is a consultant. Here’s a quick summary of what he said. “Tom, I don’t know what has happened to my business. I had a steady stream of clients for four years and now nothing is happening. I used to have people calling me all the time. I am really frustrated!”
Of course I asked him what he was doing to cure the situation. I love the silence that follows that kind of question. After about 60 seconds he finally said, “Well, I’m not doing anything.” Great! I said, “Were you hoping for divine intervention, luck, letters of introduction with referrals? Jim, you’re a nimrod! You blithely go on your merry way, forgetting that for every action there is a reaction, that the pendulum of luck doesn’t start until it’s pushed, that the more you give the more you get!” The man was seething and I loved it because I knew he knew that I was right.
I asked him one more question to put him over the top. “Jim, how many clients and business friends have you lost contact with over the last four years?” His shoulders slumped a bit and it didn’t take long for him to admit that there were quite a few.
As Paul Harvey always says, “and now, the rest of the story.” Here’s the plan I mapped out for Jimmy. Over the next six months he needed to get on the phone and reconnect with at least 50 people that fell into the category of either past client or business acquaintance. When he talked with these people I wanted him to be honest and up front. He was to tell them that he had left some good friendships lapse over the last several years and that he felt really bad about that. Obviously, he was not to mention that business was not exactly great. Duh!
He asked every person out to breakfast or lunch, on him. The goal was simply to find out what was going on in their business and personal lives and to see if there was anything Jimbo could do to direct business their way. It took five months but old Jim has seen over forty people with these results:
1. He was able to direct business to three of these people.
2. From this group came two projects and another five that were in the 90% range of closing.
3. He re-acquired a lot of very good friends.
4. And the most painful discovery was that several past clients had used another consultant to do what Jim does! Ouch! To quote Tommy Boy, “that’s gonna leave a mark.”
I don’t think my friend Jim should feel like the lone ranger. I really do believe that this happens to all of us at one time or another, especially consultants who live and breathe relationships. Stay in touch and don’t let relationships fade away.
And, I have a favor of those who frequent this sight. I’m not sure whether this violates blogging protocol or whether some of you might think this is selfish but I would like to have you forward this post along to your business acquaintances. There just might be someone out there that this message will effect in a positive way and isn’t that the reason for blogging anyway?
The Final Thought: Luck is the residue of design. (Unknown)