Into Every Life A Little Rain Must Fall
© 2017 Elena Fawkner
"Into every life a little rain must fall." And into every business too.
YOU HAVE VERY LITTLE COMPETITION
"Everyone wants to win on Sunday, but not everyone is willing to
practice Monday through Friday." Vince Lombardi
If you asked all of your competitors whether they want to be
successful, it's a fair bet that pretty much all of them would say
"Yes, of course, who doesn't want to be successful?"
But if you asked your competitors if they were prepared to do what
it takes to develop their businesses so they could ultimately
become successful, to pay the price in terms of effort, discipline,
perseverence and patience, although most if not all would
probably answer "yes, of course, whatever it takes", the reality
is that very few of them actually would.
Although everyone wants success, very few are prepared to pay
the price over the long haul. Oh, they may give it a good go for
a little while but when the results don't come quickly, they decide
their efforts aren't working and try something else.
The cold, hard reality is that success takes hard work, lots of
it, and lots of time. Overnight successes are very rare. That's why
successful people say there's always room at the top. It's because
most people quit before succeeding, even when success is
literally just around the next bend. This is why you have very
little competition. Although you may think you have a lot of
competition, in reality you're really competing against only
ten percent or so because the other ninety percent will drop out
before they achieve success.
Think of your business as a garden. The first stage is to
decide what you want to grow, the second stage is to go get
seeds and plant them, the third stage is to tend your garden and
the fourth is to reap what you have sown. The greatest challenge
for most people is to sustain themselves through the third stage.
This is where patience is essential because it may be some
considerable time between planting and reaping. Tending your
garden also requires, in addition to patience, creativity, self-
motivation, self-discipline, perseverence and resilience (all the
better to bounce back with after disappointment, my dear).
The good news, though, is that ninety percent of your competitors
can't or won't stick it out long enough to reach the harvest stage.
This is why you can be always be a success no matter how much
competition you have. So, let's get to it.
DECIDE WHAT YOU WANT TO GROW
Before you can plant your seeds, you need to know what it is
you want to grow.
"Communicating one on one is different. This requires
listening, never taking your eyes off that person, conveying the
impression that this conversation is very important to you." Rick
The first step in communicating with anyone about your business
is knowing with absolute clarity what it is you and your business
are about. You must decide what it is that you offer and to whom.
This means finding your niche. It is the kiss of death to any
business to try to be all things to all people. Accept the fact that
not everyone is a worthwhile prospect for your business and don't
waste your energies targeting anyone who is not a worthwhile
For example, let's say your business is about web site optimization
for search engines. You take your clients' web pages and you
optimize them for each of the engines, tailoring the pages to rank well.
You don't design web pages, you don't create them, you don't offer
credit card merchant facilities or shopping carts. You optimize
existing pages to rank well in the search engines. Period. This is a
very specific niche within the broader market of those requiring help
marketing their web-based businesses.
Although that broad market will include people interested in web
page optimization, it will also include people interested in learning
HTML, looking for shopping cart assistance, looking for website
design services or information on successfully promoting affiliate
programs. If you targeted this entire market, it would be like trying
to find a needle in a haystack identifying those people interested
specifically in web page optimization.
Instead, narrow your focus to that niche of the market that you have
decided to target and target ONLY that market. Everything you
do needs to be focused on web site optimization and nothing else.
Every communication you make must be to that end and no other.
Don't allow your message to be diluted by generalizing. Don't
allow your business to become fragmented.
The most effective rainmakers are very skilled at differentiating
themselves and their businesses from the competition because they
know exactly what they are selling and to whom before they ever
meet their first prospect. They have rehearsed over and over in their
minds what it is that makes them special and why a client would be
smart to do business with them. They relish questions such as
"So what do you do?", "What makes you special?" and "Why should
I do business with you?". While ordinary mortals may stumble and
fumble for effective responses to such questions, rainmakers have
no such problem. Effective rainmakers know, specifically and
precisely, exactly what they do and who benefits from their services
and they are ready with powerful statements about their skills and
You cannot be effective in developing your business unless you have
mastered service knowledge. You need to know the features of your
products or services so that you can tailor the benefits to the
prospective customer's needs. Be sure you know the difference
between features and benefits. If you're selling bar stools, a feature
of the stool is that it has three legs. The benefit is that sitting on it
will stop you hitting the floor. Remember: features tell, benefits sell.
Now, once you've identified the features and benefits of your product
or service, develop a fifteen second commercial that you can trot out
on cue whenever someone asks you, "So what do you do?". Most
people are unprepared to answer a question like this effectively and
so it is a golden opportunity to set yourself apart. Your fifteen second
commercial will help you seize the moment and put your best foot
forward. Use your fifteen second commercial to let each person you
meet know exactly what you do and why you and your business are
A fifteen second commercial for our web site optimization service
might go something like this:
Prospect: "So, what do you do?"
You: "I run my own business, "Web Site Optimization". I tweak
clients' web pages to optimize them for the various search engines.
By creating a web page that appears in the first thirty search
results for a particular search term, the client gets a huge
increase in traffic to their web site and their sales go through the
When should you use your fifteen second commercial? Each and
every time you are introduced to someone new. Get in the habit of
delivering your fifteen second commercial to as many people as
possible. The more times you deliver it the more chances you have
to create rain.
You also need to develop a uniqueness statement to respond to
the question, "What's different about your service compared to your
competition?". Use a three step format for your uniqueness
statement. Step one is to briefly overview the three features and
benefits that you will elaborate on in step two. Step two is to use
three tailored features and benefits to explain your uniqueness to
the potential customer. Select one about your business's services/
products, one about something your business has accomplished,
and one about you personally. In step three, summarize what
you've just told the prospect.
Here's an example of a uniqueness statement for our web site
Prospect: "So what's different about your service compared to your
You: "I'm glad you asked. What's different about "Web Site
Optimization" is the depth of our service, our results and our
"Unlike most of our competitors, we don't just create one web page
for all of the search engines. Each search engine has different
criteria for pages to rank well. We create a different version of each
page specifically designed for each main search engine. For
example, one of our clients' rankings on Alta Vista increased from
the 75th position to 15th in less than a month. He's experienced
a 500% increase in traffic and sales as a result. I have a background
in software engineering for Yahoo so I have access to inside information
about how the search engines work that most of my competitors just
"So, in answer to your question, what's different about us is the
depth of our service, our results and the unique experience of our
It will take many rehearsals until you have your fifteen second
commercial and uniqueness statement down cold. At first it will
feel unnatural to you to give people a rehearsed speech but
over time it will feel less awkward and you'll be able to deliver
it with an ease and assurance that will sound perfectly natural.
"A network is an organized collection of your personal contacts and
your personal contacts' own networks. Networking is finding fast
whom you need to get what you need in any given situation and
helping others do the same." Harvey Mackay
=> Your Existing Network
Now that you know what to say, you have to find people to say
it to. To establish your network, start with who you know. These
are your existing personal and business contacts ... the people
who will always take your call and who can help you reach your
goals. Consider people such as your attorney, accountant, doctor,
agents, sales people, family, colleagues, friends and vendors.
Schedule a meeting with who you know for the express purpose
of exploring ways you can help each other expand your respective
networks. If there's a fit, create ways to support each other. You
are not looking to sell the other person on your product or service.
Instead, you are establishing a genuine relationship with this person.
It doesn't matter that although you may be able to help this person
directly, he or she may never be in a position to reciprocate. The
reason it doesn't matter is that this person has a network of his or
her own and may therefore be able to put you in contact with
someone else who can help you.
Noticing the strengths in others and communicating them is one
of the greatest relationship-building skills a rainmaker can have.
Much more than just paying idle, often shallow compliments,
effective networkers focus on helping others focus on their strengths
by using evidence to back what they're saying.
=> Expanding Your Network
Now think about what you need to do to expand your network.
Think about where you should go, what networking groups you
should consider joining and how much time you have available
to invest in networking. Ask people from your existing network
where they go and what they do and start there. Also think about
groups such as alumni clubs, industry associations and social
clubs and well as your personal hobbies and interests.
Attend networking functions organized by these groups and
when you're there, work the room. Enjoy yourself, shake hands
firmly and smile. Show up early and leave late. If you go with
a friend or colleague, split up. Play your 15 second commercial
over and over again. Have a 45 second version ready too for
those who are interested in learning more about your business.
Spend two thirds of your time with people you don't know. Don't
try and sell your services, focus on building rapport with the people
you meet. Collect business cards and make notes on the back
of them to jog your memory later when it comes to making further
contact with the people you meet. Show genuine interest and get
people to talk about themselves.
If you get anxious when meeting new people, arm yourself with
a checklist of conversation starters such as industry challenges,
trends impacting your business, and questions such as "What
brings you to this event?" or "Tell me about the customers you
like to do business with". End the conversation with "If there's
ever anything I can do, please call" and exchange business
TENDING YOUR GARDEN
As noted earlier, this is the part where most people drop out of
the race. Therefore, it's the part where you can gain your
greatest competitive advantage.
Failure to continuously follow through with people they meet is
the number one reason most people never reach their full
rainmaking potential. Many people attend functions, meet new
people, collect business cards, file them in a Rolodex and wonder
why nothing ever happens.
In order to succeed in your business, you must not only have
a precise understanding of exactly what it is you are selling and
to whom, you must also make a commitment to sell it over and
over and over again, often to the same person! The average
person has to hear a message seven times before they will
remember it. Most sales are made after the fifth contact and
only ten percent of people have the staying power to make the
fifth call. That means that out of a group of 100 competitors,
you're only competing against ten of them. The difference
between you and the other ten will come down to the
effectiveness of your system for maintaining contact with
people who can refer you business.
Here's how to tend your garden:
=> Follow Up the Initial Meeting
Following your networking activities, you will have in hand a stack
of business cards from people you have met. What do you do
with them other than filing them in your Rolodex? Write a short
note to each person you met that you would like to develop a
relationship with. This note should be handwritten, and go
something like this:
Just a quick note to say how much I enjoyed meeting you
at last week's trade association mixer. I am particularly
interested in your ideas for expanding into the export market.
[See the importance of writing notes on the back of the card.]
I have some thoughts of my own that may help you. I look forward
to catching up with you again soon.
=> Maintaining Contact
Then, about two weeks later, call Rosemary and suggest a lunch
or breakfast meeting to explore ways the two of you could refer
each other business.
Invite people you have met to attend social functions such as
cocktail parties or other networking events.
Make it a point to make contact with every one of your contacts
about every two months or so. This could take any number of
forms, you need not always invite people to meet. Sometimes
sending someone a clipping of an article of mutual interest or a
cartoon that you think they will enjoy is all you will do. Other
times, you may want to suggest lunch if you haven't seen the
person for several months.
=> Working Your Network
Over time, by following the above steps, you will develop a sizeable
network and an organized way maintaining contact on a systematic
basis will become essential.
Establish a system whereby you perform a set number of network
development tasks a day, preferably at the same time of day.
For example, you could set aside an hour first thing every morning
to do your networking tasks. Let's say you have 200 contacts in
your network and you want to make contact with each of these
contacts at least once every two months. At this rate you will
need to contact five people every day (200 contacts divided by
40 working days). All you have to do is make five phone calls
between 9:00 am and 10:00 am and you're done. Or, you could
make three phone calls, send one note enclosing a copy of the
latest article you wrote for an industry publication and meet one
person for breakfast or lunch.
Some days you will have both breakfast and lunch plans with
someone from your contact list. Don't forget you can also kill
two birds with one stone by inviting more than one person to
lunch. Bring together people from your network who don't already
know each other but who could help each other. Who knows
who these people know that you haven't met yet?
You get the idea.
REAPING THE HARVEST
As you can hopefully see by now, the key is to keep in regular
contact with your network on a consistent basis. Over time, these
contacts will become a rich source of referral business for you and
your business will grow in leaps and bounds as a result.
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