In the last three weeks, I have attended three conferences: Wealthy Thought Leader in San Francisco, Conquer & Grow in Las Vegas, and BOLO 2010 in Phoenix. All were crawling with smart, motivated and optimistic entrepreneurs.
Since I had many, many conversations with both the speakers and the participants, I noticed an interesting phenomenon: many of the people I talked to did not have a clear idea of how others could help them.
You may remember I wrote a post about Malcolm Gladwell’s concept of Connectors, Mavens and Salesmen and how they relate to entrepreneurs. When you meet Connectors, (which I happen to be), they immediately scroll the Rolodex in their brain to think of people or resources to help the person they are talking to.
But if you don’t know what you need help with, you miss a lot of opportunities.
So here are five questions to answer about your business, so when presented with a generous offer for help, you will know how to respond!
The 5 questions
- Who is your ideal client?
You must have a specific, concrete example of who would be an ideal client. “Women who feel stuck in their lives” or “any company facing technological challenges” do not count. If you know of a specific person or company, say so! “I would love to work with ZeFrank!” or “IDEO would be my idea of an ideal firm to work with” or “My ideal non-profit client would be the Show Me Campaign.” If you don’t have an actual person or organization in mind, be as clear as possible in your description, such as “I would love to work with realtors in the West Valley of Phoenix who specialize in green homes.”
- Where should I send people who are interested in learning more about you?
If you have a distributed web presence, you want to be clear which site would be the best place for a contact to reach you. If you are at a social media conference, people may prefer to get your Twitter handle, but if you are at a more traditional networking event, you want to send people to your main website. I am fond of simple sites such as chrisguillebeau.com or sethgodin.com which give a nice, clean architecture, clearly show how to connect on social media platforms and point to much more detailed blogs and resources.
- Who would you really love to meet?
There are some people who could be instrumental in growing your business and deepening your knowledge, if you could just make a personal connection with them. I would love to interview John Legend about his pre-rock star days, when he was a consultant cranking out PowerPoint presentations and spreadsheets, and doing his music at night. Could there be a better side hustle post?
Who is your version of my John Legend obsession? Would you love to meet Richard Branson, or Anne Lamott, or Joel Spolsky? The sooner you name your business crushes, the sooner we can activate our six degrees of separation and get you in contact with them.
- Which media would you love to cover your business?
In the ecosystem of your business, your ideal clients read very specific books, magazines and blogs. They listen to particular radio stations and watch particular television shows. Do you know which ones they are? Define this list, and get busy connecting with reporters who cover these specific beats.
- How do you make money?
For those of you who hang out in blogging circles like I do, this question may seem a bit direct. But I have come to have a new respect for it, after fielding this question no fewer than 25 times in the last few weeks, in particular at the Conquer & Grow conference which was attended by a lot of people in the Internet Marketing industry. There are a few interpretations of this question, one which is “What is your business model, because I am interested in it!” and the other is “Do you make any money? I want to know if I should take you seriously.” You should have a pithy response for each, and if you cannot answer the question, it may be time for some strategic business model work.
If you can’t answer these questions, may I suggest you do this as a homework assignment? Feel free to post your answers in the comments. Who knows, we may be able to help you!