While productivity and momentum are common themes in this blog, it's also important to note that occasionally the most efficient thing to do is nothing at all. I'm not talking about spending a weekend binging on reality television over a bag of Cheetos. I'm suggesting that carving out time for focused reflection is just as good a use of your time as a hyper-productive workday.
This is an uncomfortable concept for most of us. In our frantic rush to meet client demands, stay ahead of the competition, and increase our revenue, we tend to adopt the mindset that faster is always better. So, we charge ahead, pedal to the floor, rarely consulting the map to make sure we're headed in the right direction.
The immediate downside is minimal, and since most of us plan and bill and schedule in short-term increments, we rarely question our approach.
The true cost shows up a few years later, when we graduate into leadership roles and find ourselves with a suboptimal network, unremarkable clients, and an uninspired practice. Then, and unfortunately only then, do many of us stop to ask: "How exactly did I get here?"
The good news is that it's never too late to pivot. You start by reflecting on a new question: "How exactly will I get there." Then you chart the course.
The process will likely involve three elements: markets, contacts, and grit.
- Markets: Which industry sector or niche will you target? The sooner you decide on this, the sooner you can focus your limited business development time on the trade associations, conferences, publications, and groups that can connect you to...
- Contacts: Who are the people you need to add to your inner circle? They are likely decision-makers or gatekeepers in the client organizations you would like to serve. Look them up on LinkedIn and ask your 1st Tier contacts to introduce you. Attend their speaking engagements and panel presentations so you can introduce yourself afterwards. Then, follow up regularly with insights and resources that demonstrate the value your services can provide. Next comes the hard part...
- Grit: You'll need this because penetrating markets and building contacts takes an unusual amount of focus, patience, and persistence. Every day you will be presented with countless distractions, most of which are (or at least seem) urgent. If you don't have the grit to regularly push against them, they will sweep you into an endless series of reactive projects. So consider that the most productive thing to do is stop. Just sit there. Think about where you want to go and let that define your next move.
Authored by David Ackert