You and I don’t know what the future has in store for us. Life is funny like that and yet, many of us are so totally unprepared!
I get lots of emails each week asking me for my best tip or even what I would do differently if I had the opportunity to have a second chance at my career.
Truth be told, I’ve actually had at least two second chances with my career. The first occurred after I lost everything back in 1995 and the other occurred in 2011 when life gave me a “tap on the shoulder”.
My world was in disarray. I was unhappier than I had ever been in my life and I knew something had to change.
My wife had just finished surgery for breast cancer (we caught it early and she is completely cured by the way) and it made me step back and look at my life from a very different perspective . . .
“Maybe I’m not on the 85 or 90 year plan like I thought”.
And now another confession . . .
I had always had this fear of going to my grave with my music still in my head!
So I wrote a business plan, cleaned out a bank account, resigned from a well paying job and started Castain Training Systems.
Some say I was lucky because I immediately landed 15 corporate clients and dozens of coaching clients but I had a secret weapon!
An army that was built long before I never needed it!
Build your army BEFORE you need it!
Do you have an army?
Are they loyal enough to march with you and back you up when that moment comes? (and it will) or . . .
Do you do what most people do and scramble to raise an army in the 11th hour when, quite frankly, its too late!
Here are few things I did to build my army BEFORE I needed it!
All (except one) are free and will only cost you some sweat. By the way, most people would rather write a check than bust their ass. Ponder that while you go to work to eat your competitor’s lunch!
1) Build a stage for yourself. In other words, someplace where you can perform and demonstrate your expertise. I launched this blog back in 2008 on a free Blogger platform and then moved it to this site. My initial expense (once I transitioned the website) for the logo, website design and lots of technical support was $1500. By the way, you need to call my friends at VanHove when you’re ready . . . They Rock!
2) You need outposts where you can demonstrate your expertise and gently guide people by the hand back to your stage. I created profiles on all the main social networking websites. Feel free to check out my profiles on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Google+. I also created a group on Linkedin and grew it to over 32,000 as well as a Facebook community of over 1500. I created The Sales Playbook Podcast which has been downloaded over 40,000 times!
3) I created a separate Twitter account to support the Linkedin group and the hashtag #salesplaybook.
4) I created free PDF’s and an entire page of freebies on my website. Note: One of the things I did (within the free eBooks) was gently guide people by the hand to other cool places where we could hang out together. This helped expand our relationships and raise awareness that the Sales Playbook brand is strong and exists on many platforms! You also get to see other sides of people in other settings so make sure you show different sides of you and take note of the other sides of people in your network!
5) I started sending free resources to my Linkedin network every 4-6 weeks. Things like free apps, a free conference call service, cool social media resources and even introductions to people my network should know. My strategy with the free resource is a 98/2 ratio. In other words, 98% is brand agnostic meaning it has nothing to do with me or my website. The other 2% is something free that points them back to my website. Overall, this has proven to be a fantastic way to stand out and stay on mucho radar screens!
6) I started transitioning my social network by speaking to and/or meeting at least 5 people per week. This is the step that makes it real folks . . . otherwise we’re all just collecting contacts. I offer a free report on this very topic!
7) I played matchmaker to people in my network that could help each other. By the way, people love to hang out with people who hook a brother up with some business. And it costs us, wait for it, wait for it . . . NOTHING!
8) I embraced something we all forget “Everyone has a story and wants to be heard” so I made it a point to validate people in my network by responding to their status updates, tweets etc. Example: If someone is posting an update letting us know that they’re proud of something, how much does it cost us to “Congratulations!” There’s lots of noise out there folks . . . this is a great way to stand out! Oh, don’t be so quick to dismiss this stuff as play by play. Its an opportunity for you to connect with someone!
Everyone has a story and wants to be heard!
9) I took every opportunity to make other people look like rock stars. This can be done by sharing content, commenting on their content and updates etc. If I see someone in a Linkedin group making an awesome point, I commend them in front of the group. You know what? There’s so much noise out there and I find that’s its a struggle to get a word in edgewise at times. That’s why I help others get a word in.
10) I watched for opportunities where I could help someone and then reached out. It costs me nothing to jump on a quick call with someone and walk them through a challenge. Someone once asked me how I could have the time to do this. I actually have a tremendous amount of time for this because I have zero time for ineffective cold calls. I’d rather demonstrate my expertise this way. Want to know how you can help someone? Try using this phrase as your first update, tweet etc of the day “Good morning. How can I help someone today?” It’s also a gentle reminder to you that we build armies by being helpful!
Most of all . . . I created “COMMUNITY” by responding to those who took the time to comment on my blog, retweet my content, comment on my facebook fan page or LinkedIn update.
On that note . . .
Let’s take a quick trip to negative town . . . I absolutely despise the practice of ignoring one’s community!
I see several “gurus” on Twitter who completely ignore their community. I see others who don’t respond to or acknowledge their blog comments which I think is bullsh*t and disrespectful to your community. It also reeks of “its all about me” and at the very least it doesn’t condition the behavior that you need to build your army . . .
Two things I screwed up big time . . .
I wish I had built my “list” earlier. Your list is the list of not only subscribers but people who have opted in for additional resources. I have two. One for blog subscribers and another that I started back in August. I quickly built the August list to over 5,000. Now imagine if I had done this back in 2008. I would have tens of thousands.
Engaging influencers who had built their own armies.
I have a bit of an excuse for this one and it is just that . . . an excuse. I watched some others do this in ways that they were name dropping on their blog or only retweeting what the cool kids had to say and there was just something phony about it. In that context, I felt it to be a tad too “Middle School” for my taste!
I later realized that there were ways to do this without forgetting your own roots and remaining true to yourself.
Anyway, I’ve said more than enough for one blog post except one thing that needs to be said.
Armies are important not only in launching new businesses and growing existing ones . . .
They are important in helping us get through tough times!
That period of time when I watched my high school sweetheart battle a horrible disease (mentally and physically) set me full force into a depression but . . .
Your thoughts, prayers and kind emails gave this aspiring sales rock star strength.
How do we calculate the ROI on that?