Last week’s newsletter seems to have struck a chord. After sending out the email, I received a few replies and questions along these lines:
“I’m doing my best to make the most of each opportunity - delivering great value, sending follow-up emails - but I can’t seem to make anything more happen with X person or Y organization. What do I need to do differently?”
When your outreach efforts are ignored or shut down with a “polite” reply, you can sometimes feel like you’re a deer caught in the headlights. Ok, so it doesn’t always look or feel this dramatic (especially when Photoshop is not involved!), but it’s easy to feel as though you’re stuck, unable to move and unsure of where to turn or what to do next.
Was it Something I Said?
Hitting roadblocks like these can be incredibly frustrating, especially when you see so many potential ways to add value and to make an impact with a company or group. In many instances, the roadblocks surface - through no fault of your own - in the form of leadership changes, budget cuts, internal politics and shifting timetables.
In other instances, we unintentionally become our own obstacle by doing such things as making assumptions, using outdated (or wrong) strategies, fixating on outcomes and misreading people and situations.
With publishing, speaking and media paradigms changing so rapidly and with multiple industries in constant flux, obstacles like these are becoming more common and more frequent. In response to this new “normal,” thought leaders at all stages need to develop their ability to pivot.
“Know When to Hold ‘Em, Know When to Fold ‘Em”
When I’m working with my private clients, we talk about how to assess the energy in a relationship - and how to recognize when that energy is not currently “there.” This ability is one of the most challenging ones to master on the thought leader journey.
- If your emails go unanswered after 3-4 follow-up attempts…
- If you get a canned reply to your thoughtful recommendations on how you could work together…
- If you get a “Yes, let’s do it!” but can’t seem to schedule the next meeting….
...maybe it’s time to follow the advice of Kenny Rogers and fold ‘em?
By folding, I don’t mean you should automatically give up or drop your keep-in-touch strategy with that person or group. Instead, you just need to adjust your expectation that something is going to happen right now.
The moment you realize that your “ideal” company isn’t in a position to hire you, go find 10 other ones that fit the same profile and work to build relationships with them. When you realize that the industry association you’re targeting is distracted by internal politics, seek out 10 other groups that have similar values and a history of partnering with thought leaders like you.
The sooner you recognize the moment the energy shifts, the less frequently you’ll end up like the “deer” in the photo. As a result, you’ll also connect more quickly with that company leader, conference organizer or strategic partner that’s ready and able work with you - right now.