Brian and I worked together about six months ago and he was calling to make an appointment for a meeting. So it wasn’t the conversation that struck me, rather it was the significance of my response to Brian’s call.
In my head, I was squealing “It’s Brian! Brian has called. I wonder how he’s going? Hey everybody, Brian has called!” and so on. You must be thinking that Brian is some kind of celebrity or perhaps even a deity that’s descended to earth to work with me.
Brian is not the Messiah, he’s just a very helpful boy. He raises what I do in my business out of the ‘ho hum’ and into the ‘pinch me because this is just too cool’ arena. You see, Brian is one of my people.
Before you think I’ve gone off and joined a cult, let me explain. A few years ago I worked with a whole bunch of people on a wide range of issues. In other words, I was all things to all people but didn’t really have strong connections with anyone.
Some days I would open my diary with dread.
Then I was at a BAG meeting where the focus was on developing our business niche. According to some, you are doomed in business unless you find your niche. I began crafting and re-crafting my Who and What and riding endless elevators, having very brief conversations with strangers, trying to find my niche.
It wasn’t working. Everything I came up with felt really fake or incomplete, and then my mate KG asked me “Well, who are your people?”
That one question floored me. I immediately knew who I needed to be working with. I could see them, I knew what kept them awake at night, I knew how I could help them.
I can usually identify my people at fifty paces. They are the people I find easy to get along with, and, consequently, they are absolute joys to work with. They’ve usually had similar life experiences, have similar values or interests or we’ve both been traumatised by the cancellation of a TV series.
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I’ve even got a very long, ever-expanding list of criteria of who my people are. It includes things such as:
- Are you driven by something greater than money?
- Do you treat others and the planet with kindness and respect?
- Can you laugh at life, and more importantly, me?
- Have you had an embarrassing singing bowl meditation experience?
And the real clincher,
- Have you watched the complete seven seasons of Buffy (with bonus points for reading the season eight and nine comics)?
While there’s some point of connection or commonality, it’s not just about getting clients like me. I’ve worked with people whose life experiences have been the polar opposite of mine with debate-worthy differences in values, but they have had such a wicked sense of humour or blistering enthusiasm (i.e. met one of my criteria) that I wanted to be on their team.
It’s also not all endless cups of tea and frolicking in the fields. Clients like Brian have very real challenges, but it’s the way they are so open to giving new things a go. I really admire that.
The shift in my thinking about my business that came after Brian’s call is that the more authentic conversations I have with people – longer than an elevator ride thanks – the more likely those points of connection will emerge. When I’m aware that my people are all around me, getting clients is no longer fraught with desperate sales techniques.
For me, it’s not just about getting clients. It’s about loving what I’m doing and being able to have that daily “yay” when I open my diary and find it filled with my people.
Who’s your Brian? Who are your people?