Every month or so, I meet with a group of people all interested in one thing: growing their business on the Internet. Well, make that two things: the other, as important, is balancing life so it's enjoyable, livable and rewarding.
An informal, loosely-structure network, the group meets for a few hours on a weekend morning. This month I didn't think I had time to make it to the meeting.
But I did. I needed to ask a question: How do I make the most of all of my experience and content? Being blessed with some creative open space after a few major projects, I want to make the most of a lightly booked calendar.
Here's what the group came up with for me - I'm sharing the ideas in the hopes that you'll benefit, too.
Focus: Where is Your Lens?
First find a niche - okay, I know you've heard that before. Now ask yourself the question: What is my niche - exactly? That's where I get stuck. I love almost everybody. So, I have to keep asking more questions. If I'm not clear, you're not clear.
Who do you like to work with? Why? Who wants or need your service?
Now is the time to be really honest and sincere. That's hard for me. Because one of my core values is diversity, I love having lots of different types of projects to work on. But, the more I spread out, the more I dilute who I am.
In our discussion, I thought of at least two markets I like working with and have had success with. After surfing to see who's serving their integrated marketing/PR needs the way I would, I came up with the answer I was looking for: no one. So. matching my expertise with an under-served market makes sense. My next step is to contact the industry associations and tell them that I want to test and develop something based on their group's needs. Once I build it out, I can move on to another industry or stay there and deepen my reach. How do you find your focus?
Intuition: Will You Be Bitten or Smitten?
Next tip: Follow your intuition and listen to your gut!
Turns out another mastermind member was also recruited for the same client projects as me. We handled the request differently.
He spent an hour on the phone, listened to his gut, called back, tested the offer and then said no. Although I got some of the same early reads as my friend, I ignored them and spent almost two days checking out the opportunity. In comparing notes, we both made the same first move - asking for money.
In his case, that ended the process. In my case, I retracted and withdrew the boundaries. Next time I'll spend more time listening to my inner voice and ask myself, "What would you advise a friend or a client to do?"
The good news is that I ramped up my consulting contract so that it's ready to go. And, I did send the prospect recommendations in a format I created to be used over and over again. Every time I think I "fail" like this, I analyze what I could do better next time and what I learned.
One last piece of experience my friend shared: When you don't listen to your intuition and you take on a project you're not sure about, it comes back to bite you in the butt. Did I ever tell you about the time a client threw his check for my company at me? That was one instance where I sensed from the outset that their company was not a good fit for ours. How do you know when to trust your intuition?
Repeat: Can You See the Pattern Here?
Once you find the winning formula, keep going.
And, it doesn't have to be the one you cook up in your lab. It can be someone else's that you reformulate to fit your product or process.
Don't repeat the same nonsense. I'm so guilty of this one, but I'm getting better. There's a careful balance between giving up too early and sticking with someone or something that will never, ever work. A dead giveaway?
You're trying sell something YOU know people should have, but it's not something they want. Let's take PR. I know what a great PR campaign can do for you. And, I also know it's easy to get into with a low investment and a low risk rate. But why do you care? As one of my mastermind friends told me, "Until I was ready to learn about PR and what it could do for my business, I didn't seek it out or pay any attention to even testing what publicity could do for me."
She suggested I come up with some new name or brand beyond PR so that it sounds more like something people have to have - now. She also told me that when she heard one of the top online PR gurus speak, she didn't get how the approach/product would help her business. How loooooooooooooooooooong does the learning curve need to be? Not long: super short or 10 seconds or less is best. Finding a way to package what you have so it's easy to get right away sounds tricky. How would you do that?