Don't ignore the opportunities which lead to the opportunities

Something which I see happen a lot is that people walk past little opportunities because they’re constantly looking for the BIG opportunity.
If I track back from some of the really big opportunities I have had, there were often lots of little opportunities along the way which finally took me to the big opportunity. The little opportunities didn’t come labelled though. They didn’t say “if you do this, this massive thing will happen”. In fact, a lot of the little opportunities didn’t even look like opportunities at the time. Some of them looked a little bit like thankless hard work.
Back in 2008, not long after I had joined 4Networking I was asked if I would “help them out” by manning their stand at The Business Show in London. I did that for two days at a time, twice a year, for five years. Then one year, at the after party, I ended up sat next to the then Commissioning Editor for “For Dummies” series of books. Six weeks after that first meeting I signed the contract to write Business Networking for Dummies. The big opportunity was there, it was just hiding for that first five years.
When I wrote my article “Every big opportunity starts with a little conversation” maybe I should have put in a subtitle “but not necessarily directly, there might be all sorts of stuff you have to do in between the little conversation and the big opportunity”. But that isn’t a very compelling title.
Some of the really big opportunities have come from agreeing to record a podcast with someone, or writing a guest blog on someone else’s site, or speaking at their networking event or trade show. And an awful lot of that stuff along did the way didn’t involve me raising an invoice immediately.
Here is my point to this article. We all need to sell stuff and make money. Sometimes though I think we get blinded by that and walk past the person who might introduce us to our best ever client, or pass up the opportunity to raise our profile where it matters because we’re too busy “aggressively waiting for the ‘phone to ring” (thanks Brad Burton for that one), hoping that that BIG BUSINESS we sent an Email to will call us back.
The gutting thing is that I’ve passed up a load of stuff which might have led me to something bigger. Equally I’ve done a load of stuff which took me right up a blind alley.
I was once told by a good friend of mine that he knew that 50% of his marketing worked beautifully, if he could only work out which 50% it was he would stop doing everything else…..
If you want networking to work, be open to the little opportunities. Don’t stumble over them in the hope of getting straight to the big one.

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