Getting Results In Difficult Times: Engage

“To stay on the map you’ve got to keep showing up.” P. Gallagher

Whether you’re trying to generate new business or land a position with a new firm, getting in front of people is the most critical thing to accomplish.  Building and nurturing professional relationships must be given the highest priority every day.

If I’ve learned anything in my twenty-three years as a consultant, it’s to keep showing up.  When I show up I usually discover opportunities to help clients succeed.  When I don’t show up, my chances of getting assignments are zero.

Three conversations I had on this topic last week:

Executive…“I get so consumed with my work that I do not take time to keep my professional network outside of the firm active.”  He noted that the last time he was in a job search he promised himself that he would continue to network.  That hasn’t happened quite the way he thought it would.  A future problem in the making.

Managing Director (with an unemployed spouse)…”He doesn’t seem to act with an understanding that his full-time job, right now, is looking for a full-time job.”

Young Frustrated Professional…“It takes so long for people to decide to approve my proposals and get started.  I need to hear from them.”

Times are tough right now.  Lead times have quadrupled (at least in my business); and, companies are being much more deliberate and involving more people in the decision-making process.  So, be persistent, keep showing up and do not lose heart.  If you care enough to keep in contact, opportunity will have a higher probability of coming your way.

One year ago this month I made a sales call at the request of a client.  Two months later I submitted a proposal at the request of that client and nothing happened. Continued to call as months passed.  Asked that client to lunch in October.  Got a call last Tuesday from that client accepting my proposal, almost one year to the day. Keep showing up!


Getting Results In Difficult Times: Improvise

Be open to everything that happens.

Improv comedians and actors follow a basic principle that is required for improv to work.  It is the art of being open to every idea and word you are given in the moment, without any resistance. The moment you resist what is coming your way the magic of the moment is shut down and creativity lost.

An open mind free of preconceived beliefs allows innovative ideas to surface in your conscious mind.  Be Versatile. When I catch myself thinking something is not possible, I immediately challenge that thought and ask, “Why not?”

As the unexpected, unanticipated surprises and challenges come your way in difficult times, remember the discipline of the improv artist.  Don’t resist the ideas, or the problems you’re handed. Be open and the solution will flow out of you without effort.  Improvise!


Getting Things Done In Difficult Times: Decide What Not To Do

Sometimes deciding what you will not do, or condone, brings more focus than creating plans and tactics.

What will you and your team stop doing? Where will you stop spending resources in order to repurpose those resources toward a more productive outcome?  When will unproductive activity and meetings have an end put to them? This is the task of leadership.

I have observed professionals laboring over setting tactics, but unable to eliminate tasks, programs and unproductive procedures. Remember the Stop-Start-Continue exercise?  The most difficult part of that exercise is deciding what you will stop doing; however, it is the most critical of the three steps in my view.

Have the courage to say no to ideas that aren’t in alignment with your strategic goals; limit activities that do not move you closer to your goal, and free people from meaningless tasks that aren’t directly contributing to serving your clients or achieving your objectives.