Sunday, October 03, 2010

When Your Back's Against The Wall

Country artist Kenny Chesney's epic chart topping hit about high school football, "Boys of Fall" has a verse that rings in my soul every time I hear the song:

"I've got your number, I've got your back, when your back's against the wall. You mess with one man, you got us all..."

When you are part of a team, everyone watches out for each other, but in the business world too many people feel they are all alone. They want that feeling of "team", but they do not sense that it exists within their network of professional contacts.

The realities of the economy over the last few years means that back's ARE pushed against the wall. Some people have amazing personal support groups, but few believe they have a real network of business connections who are looking out for their best interests.

How about you?.... Whose got your back when your back is against the wall? Is there a team of people who say "if you mess with one man (or woman), you got us all"?

The best way to cultivate a group of people willing to block and tackle for you is to be the person who does that for others. The pressures we all face make it is easy to get caught up with self focused actions. Even the most well-meaning can miss opportunities to help those in their network.

I talk to people who have great intentions to serve others. They even think they are being an active resource because they want to be a good "partner" to those in their inner circle. But "wanting" to do something and actually "doing" something are two different things. Philosophically understanding that you should be a person who finds ways to impact others is not enough.

Dr. Stephen Covey had it right in his book "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People" with this description of an "Emotional Bank Account". Before you can make withdrawals you must first make deposits. Too many people show up in their business community when they are in need of help and ask for favors. They expect their network to uncover opportunities (or otherwise "have their back"), but they have been playing for the other team the whole time.

I am fortunate because I do have people who are watching out for me. Most of my business comes directly from referrals. These people on my "team" refer me to their companies and professional organizations to speak at sales meetings, users conferences, conventions and other events where I can serve the keynote speaker, breakout trainer, or master of ceremonies. These same people give me constructive feedback and marketing ideas that help me grow my business.

And I do the same thing for them.

If you want a team, appoint yourself as "team captain" and bring together a group of people who are willing to put in the effort to construct a "club" with a high level of support.

And remember, as the song says: "They didn't let just anyone in that club, took every ounce of heart and sweat and blood" (That means not just anyone makes your team... they have to earn it!)

Have A Great Day


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