Each person you know and meet has a "lifetime value" in terms of your career that is most certainly not immediately apparent. However, just as $1 in the bank will grow enormously over time through the "miracle" of compound interest, so will the benefits you receive from people *if* you treat each person with respect, honestly and with an attitude of how you can mutually help each other (not just what you can "get" from the other person).
I'll illustrate the point with a story and let you decide the lifetime value of a single contact. (The actual names in this story have been obscured or changed).
Years ago, when I operated an art gallery, a salesperson came in representing a local publication for tourists. We generally didn't advertise in such publications, but somehow, he convinced us to place a quarter page advertisement for $300. The ad ran and, to my knowledge, we garnered not a single customer. However, a young artist, "M" saw the ad and visited the gallery to show us his work. His breathtaking work captured our hearts and we began to represent "M" (and sold quite a lot of his work). So end the end, the $300 ad had been worth it.
But wait. There's more...much more.
About a year later, my business partners decided to visit Santa Fe to do some prospecting for new artists. When the artist from the ad, M, heard about this, he suggested that they visit a particular gallery in Santa Fe that also represented him, J's gallery.
Arriving in Santa Fe, my partners began perusing J's gallery and in walked an artist J represented, K. My partners struck up a conversation with K. As the conversation progressed, K suggested they continue talking at his studio in Taos. After a short (OK not so short) drive to Taos, my partners enjoyed the privilege of hand-picking paintings in K's studio to show in our gallery.
Now K turned out to be quite a discovery. Our customers loved his artwork and proved it with their pocketbooks. K worked diligently and sent new works often and within a few years we even hosted a sell-out one man show (and several more in later years). So the $300 ad and the contact with M had now paid off handsomely.
But wait . . . . There’s still more.
In the intervening years, K had become involved in a national painting group, we'll just call the group NPG. NPG, although very young, appeared to be on the rise, garnering media attention and developing a good reputation. K let us know that the venue for their next national show had not yet been decided. We asked K for their contact info and, with K's introduction, were able to speak directly with the president of the organization. Long story short - less than a year later we were hosting NPG's national painting exhibition - over 200 fantastic paintings by artists from all over the United States and Canada. In fact, during that show we discovered "S", one of the finest painters we had ever seen. (S is one of my favorite painters to this day). S won the show and within a month we were representing S as his only United States gallery. I won't go into details but the number of paintings we sold for "S" are staggeringly large. In addition, we garnered many other fine artists from the NPG show and even hosted the show a second time.
This story could and did continue with one contact leading to another one. Since the NPG show was over 12 years ago the "compound interest" continued to get bigger and bigger, but after this point, I kinda lost track of the "trail" of connections. Things just started happening too fast as the gallery rose to national prominence.
So back to the original point. What's the lifetime value of a single contact?
What's the lifetime value of that ad salesperson to the gallery?
What about M? K? NPG? S?
As you can plainly see the lifetime value of each contact is enormous
. Almost incalculable.
So let's talk about you.
A few weeks ago, I suggested that you make a list of everyone you know
. I followed up with a plan
for communicating with those people and garnering support and help.
Now perhaps there was someone you were tempted to "skip" for one reason or another. If so, go back and add that person to your list and get him into your plan. Or perhaps you just made a quick list but weren't thorough in your compiling all those business cards and scribbled names you've saved up. Set aside the time to compile them, organize them and get them into your system. The pay off might not be immediate but as my story illustrates, the pay off just might be enormous.
Software Craftsman and Art Fanatic