As a business development professional, effective networking is my life-blood. And ironically, life-blood is the backbone of my Red T-Shirt experience. Personally, I like long-sleeved t-shirts. When the American Red Cross offered a blood red one if I donated blood, I leaped at the opportunity to help save lives.
What’s In It For Me?
Because the American Red Cross is an established, well-run organization that provides an incredibly valuable service, they actively connect with their donors. Their long-sleeved Red T-Shirt offer grabbed my attention because I have entirely too much blue and khaki in my wardrobe. Upon receiving this offer, I did not just schedule an appointment. I changed my calendar so that I could get a shirt early before they ran out of my size.
I believe donating blood is an important priority that helps save lives. But, now they were enhancing my wardrobe. They offered me a conspicuous display of my giving heart, which is good for my business. As an entrepreneur, my personal brand includes selflessly contributing to my community and benefiting individuals needing my skills. The American Red Cross had sold me a cost-effective solution (the price was a few units of blood) to enhance my brand! Business professionals, what problem do you solve that is a very personal and high priority for your customer? How can you structure your solution so that your customer will change their schedule to do business with you? Give them a good reason to tell others about how they benefited from doing business with you!
What Will You Do Differently For a Different Result?
It is insane to expect a different benefit by doing the same old routine. Different results happen by putting yourself in new situations and preparing to receive different benefits. Blocking time on a Wednesday afternoon to visit the American Red Cross donation center was not in my predetermined plan. However, networking and prospecting always is. Consequently, I made an entrepreneurial decision to go somewhere different at this time. Surprisingly, I saw a highly respected contact donating blood on the table next to me. He’s not my customer, nor a prospect; but he is a heckuva guy! Because it is really awkward to get up and leave when there is a needle in your arm extracting blood, I had a captive audience with an important professional connection.
Networking is not about consummating business transactions. Its purpose is to establish mutual, personal connections to explore opportunities. Networking is an investment. Much like giving blood. My donation is not going to be raced into surgery. It is going to be stored in a blood bank to be distributed when the time is right! Do not network for the transaction. Network for the relationship.
What Else Do I Get?
The American Red Cross knew that donors (customers) like me respond to offers. They did not offer me a two-for-one deal on t-shirts on Wednesday. Nor did they promise me celebrity sightings for donating. They provided me a value proposition to contribute to my community, an action that I already wanted to do. Networking was an additional benefit that directly resulted from accepting their offer with the proper mindset. I made a decision to do the right thing, at an unexpected time, for the right reason, expecting a better result! And, they delivered. I contributed to my community. I received my wardrobe-enhancing long-sleeved Red T-Shirt. I invested in a relationship with a well-respected professional. One intentional, out-of-the-ordinary decision resulted in multiple benefits.
Generating additional benefits is at the heart of business development. My long-sleeved Red T-Shirt is functional and stylish. Discussing the benefits of preserving life by donating blood is an exceptional lecture point for future trainings and workshops to demonstrate how relatively small sacrifices literally change destinies. Connecting with well-respected professionals extends my personal brand, thus yielding additional opportunities to serve and impact my community in profitable ways. One professional boldly did something different and created value. So, to escape a professional rut, identify a Red T-Shirt to pursue. Then, share the story of how you turned an out-of-the-ordinary exchange into an extraordinary opportunity to serve others. Opportunity will follow!!
Wishing you continued success, RB!
By Glenn W Hunter
Principal Of Hunter and Beyond