One of the most important traits of any purpose-driven leader is gratitude toward everyone, including your network contacts. Whether they connected you with a potential client or were available to bounce ideas off of, they gave of their time and talent to help you.
These relationships, if properly fostered, will be invaluable to you as you grow your business or venture out into new projects. No one becomes successful on their own. Be thankful to everyone who has helped you in your business endeavors.
GUARD YOUR REPUTATION
If your goal for your entrepreneurial journey is to be more than a revenue generator, you must do more than turn a profit. Your character and integrity will speak louder than any industry award or accolade. Now more than ever, consumers and potential clients are watching the behaviors of leaders. They are doing business with companies that have a solid, authentic, and diverse company culture—not just a catchy tagline or cool logo.
Your reputation must be flawless. That's a weighty word, but I can't stress it enough. All eyes are on the CEO and the leadership team; therefore, ensuring everyone aligns with your vision is critical. People rarely give second chances, and when they do, it's with much trepidation.
When I began to formulate the plans for my business, I knew I'd have a handful of potential clients but would also need reliable subcontractors to actually do the work. I recognized it might be challenging to secure these key players as a newcomer in the industry.
Because of the relationships I'd fostered and the trust I'd built, many subcontractors gave me a chance. To this day, my company is known for treating our vendor partners well, and many have reached out to work with us. At the end of the day, we're nothing without our vendors. They are the ones in front of the client, our "boots on the ground." We need them as much as they need us.
This mutual respect between our vendors and my team results in our clients getting their work completed on time and on budget, which, in turn, results in satisfied clients who send us more business. I can't begin to tell you how critical word-of-mouth referrals are to a new business owner. A client or vendor is risking their own reputation when they send you potential business, so you must stay focused on service excellence.
Again, treat everyone with honesty and respect. These relationships, built and strengthened through purposeful networking, are why Branded Group has enjoyed exponential growth year over year since we launched in 2014.
BE PREPARED TO FAIL
Let's face it: we've all had those meetings that did not go as planned. Planes don't arrive on time. Traffic jams occur. I live in Orange County, California, so traffic is always a nightmare. Life happens, and guess what? It happens to all of us.
If that first impression was less than stellar, be straight with the other person and let them know you're sorry the meeting didn't go well. It's okay to be vulnerable and admit when things don't turn out the way you'd like. Own up to it and then give them your word that it won't happen again. Believe me, they'll appreciate your honesty and your desire to start over. Who knows? One day you may both laugh over that first encounter.
Don't be afraid to step out of your comfort zone from time to time. If you remember the best practices I've shared for being yourself—being generous with your time and talents, and being polite and respectful—you'll be light-years ahead of so many others in creating a network of clients and partners. Networking is both an art and a science. The science is easy: there are a million books on how to be successful at networking. I encourage you to read them. However, the art of networking is up to you: it comes down to your creativity and your innovative approach to meeting and connecting with people. The better you know yourself, the easier it will be for you. Authenticity is the name of the game. Be yourself at all times. If there's a character trait you possess that you don't like, change it. If there's a skill you need to improve, improve it. Every challenge has a solution if you're willing to seek it out. If you're going to lead a successful business, you need to be ready to face challenges, starting on launch day and on all the days that follow.
To learn more about how to foster a grateful mindset, check out the #BeBetter with Michael Kurland podcast "Gratitude and a Side of Pasta" with Chris Schembra, Founder of the 7:47 Gratitude Experience(TM) and bestselling author of Gratitude and Pasta: The Secret Sauce for Human Connection.
Go to MichaelKurland.co/bebetter-podcast.
This excerpt is from the paperback edition.
Monday we begin the book From Conflict to Courage: How to Stop Avoiding and Start Leading by Marlene Chism.