You have exactly 10 people who you consider to be within your inner circle.
They’re stored as favorites in your iPhone, and you invest 80% or more of your available free time with these people. They know your past (shady or otherwise), and for the most part, you’re OK with that.
How did these people, of all people, become part of your inner circle? In my experience, it comes down to having shared passions, values, and experiences over time that have translated into a mutual trust. A trust that is hard (but not impossible) for others to become a part of.
CMOs are people, too. They have cell phones with favorites. They have free time (occasionally). Some even have shady pasts that they’d rather forget about. And in conjunction with their personal 10, they (just like you) have a professional 10 with all the same attributes -- just slightly different expectations.
In agency business development, you’re not building new relationships with companies and brands; you’re attempting to be invited into a marketer’s Professional 10.
So how do you break into those inner circles of 10? I hate to be the one to break it to you, but it doesn't matter if it’s a personal or professional 10; there is no silver bullet, repeatable formula, or single technology that will break open a circle. You can't avoid the painful, yet inevitable, objections and rejections at your attempts.
In addition to this, what works for initiating a relationship and opening the door to one circle will most likely not work on your next attempt at forming a relationship. That person will have an entirely different set of values. And one other thing to remember -- by successfully entering a CMO’s professional 10, you’re bumping someone else (the incumbent) out. Why should I care, you ask? You should as you craft strategies to protect your spot in your existing clients' 10.
All is not lost. If you’re reading this, you’re off to a good start; you’re open to learning and experimentation.
To get you started, here’s a simple five–step strategy that worked for me recently:
- I mapped out my Professional 10.
- I researched each of their business verticals and adjacencies.
- I determined two people likely to be in their respective 10 that I could provide professional value to, irrespective of the immediate potential for my financial gain.
- I asked for help from my Professional 10 with complete transparency, and I got it.
- This effort resulted in 20 new relationships with people I could genuinely provide professional help to. For most, we know that we already share common values, passions, and shared experiences through our 10’s network.
It’s amazing who you already know through your Professional 10, not just who you’re "connected to" through social media.
It’s unrealistic to think that I’m now miraculously part of 20 CMOs' professional 10s. However, with five of these new relationships, we’ve agreed to experiment with assignments to determine which of their Professional 10 may be the weakest link -- an opportunity for us.
Create your Professional 10, and save on them in your phone. Do a little research into who you believe you can help. Then ask your inner circle for help starting those new relationships.
Has this or a similar approach worked for you? Tell us in the comments below!