This week I , along with Frank DeRaffele, had the great privilege to be invited to Washington DC to meet with Senator Kelly Ayotte about our new initiative we ran this past December called Small Business Stimulus Week. You can read more about what the initiative is about in this blog post Is it Time to Stimulate Your Own Economy. We are excited to be running it again this upcoming July.
While this was a quick trip it was also a meaningful one that I believe will pay huge dividends over the next few years. There are a couple lessons about networking though that were present during this trip I would like to share over the next couple of blog posts.
Lesson #1: Results Take Time!
Many people have asked how the trip was and what happened. What has been amazing to me is the reactions of many when I told them it was great, we were able to spend about a half hour with one of her top aides, and one of his colleagues, and we got about 10 minutes with the Senator. The typical response so far has been "that's it?!" Of course my response back has been "Yes it was amazing" to which I have received a lot of shocked, or even disappointed looks.
I'm not quite sure what they were expecting. I believe a lot of business owners out there are focused on immediate results, and maybe some of these people were expecting me to come back with something tangible besides this picture.
The fact though is that real results from networking, and don't kid yourself that is exactly what we were doing there, take time. If I walked back into the Senator's office tomorrow Senator Ayotte would have no idea who I was. I have just broken the first barrier to the very beginning phase of being visible, so why would I expect that I would suddenly have a level of credibility and trust with the Senator to gain anything beyond her congratulations at this time? This trip was a lot about baby steps, it is something I can follow up on later when we run Small Business Stimulus Week again, and we begin to build more credibility for what we are doing, and who we are.
I think many people would have left this meeting feeling defeated and miserable. I on the other hand left extremely excited about the potential. I stated earlier that I believe this is the first step to something that could pay dividends over the upcoming YEARS, not days.
Step one was the opportunity to meet and shake hands. Much like when meeting someone for the first time at an after-hours networking event. If you believe that because you met someone once you are now entitled to ANYTHING from them you are sorely mistaken. You need to be able to see long term when networking and not be focused on short term results if you ever want to gain true success.
Now the key to this lesson however is going to be in the follow up, and the consistency of effort. Many people would take this one meeting, not get a tangible result right away and then move on. They may have considered it a defeat where I see it as a great victory. I have no idea where this quick meeting may lead down the line, but I do know that if I don't work off of this meeting, and work on building my visibility and trust with the Senator, and if I don't follow up on the meeting, nothing will happen. Then this meeting would be a waste of time. Far too often I hear people complain that a networking meeting, or event was a waste of time because they never got anything from it. To that I say it is their fault. They went to a meeting expecting results to just fall in their lap with no effort from them after that meeting. No follow up, no additional meetings, no work. The biggest key to the lesson of time is that you are in control of how long it will take.
Come back next week where I will continue the lessons learned from this amazing trip to the Capital.