Most people I talk to are always looking for new ideas for their firm. Occasionally, I even come across people who say they have no shortage of good ideas, but they struggle with implementing them. Steve Johnson, author of Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation, once said, “Chance favors the connected mind.” It isn’t by chance that certain people seem to have the best ideas and have good things happen to them. Successful people (and good ideas) are like a lake that receives a steady flow of water from all the tributaries flowing toward them. The lake is surrounded by natural resources that keep it full and allows those using the lake (namely, you and me), to benefit from all that it provides.
People are the same. We feed off each other and the new ideas, information and consequences that come upon us are the result of the inspirations surrounding us. Sometimes, even when we don’t realize or anticipate it, a person or group of people will provide new seeds of thought that help germinate fresh thinking to solve very real problems or spur growth in our business. Whatever your need is, chances are you will find the answer(s) with the help of someone else.
Too many professional services firms stay inwardly focused, relying almost exclusively on their internal thinking to grow the business. Yet networking is critically important for a firm to be able to gain access to outside resources and ideas which fill up the firm with the latest thinking and trends and allow them to make necessary adjustments to get things accomplished. Part of the magic in benefiting from what relationships have to offer is to regularly connect with quality people who care and have answers to your questions and insights into your dilemmas.
It is often difficult to devote significant time to activities, such as networking, that have long-term implications and benefit. We always want to gravitate toward focusing on activities that are current and screaming for attention. This highly stressful way of working is also known as ‘putting out fires.’ The ironic thing about operating in this mode is that the very solutions you need to douse the flames can be found through networking and building relationships with peers who understand the challenges and offer qualified solutions.
The obvious suggested course of action is to make the time to network, even when it’s seemingly not available. The benefits to be gained from networking at a high level are tremendous. Don’t just show up though. Sit down and form a plan for what you want to take back from the event or activity, in terms of getting feedback on the ideas you have, finding answers to your questions, and exploring new thinking related to your goals that will help you achieve them.
A great way to improve your internal rate of return… Ideas + Relationships = Results.
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