Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Do You Feel Lucky?

Luck has come up a lot in conversation in the last week or so. How much of our business success do we put down to good fortune and to what extent are we able to create our own luck?

The subject originally came up in a meeting with a prospective client a couple of weeks ago. The Marketing Director told me her biggest problem. As a department they were creating a number of opportunities for the senior people in their company, inviting all of the 'right' people along to events that they host but their team were failing to engage in the right conversation, not following up and making no attempt to build the relationship further.

"In fact", she went on to say, "when they do get a good connection that leads to business, they put it down to serendipity".

This got me thinking about some of the milestones in my career. Each time I have acheived something of which I could justifiably be proud, I have always looked for some external factor beyond my control to explain it. In other words, I've looked to blame it on 'luck'.

For example, when I left my position of Managing Director of BRE to set up my networking strategy consultancy I was 'lucky' enough to have a strong connection with a Regional Director of NatWest who instantly wanted me to work with his team.

When I have had national media coverage in papers such as The Sun, The Financial Times and The Sunday Times I have been 'lucky' enough to have connections either at each paper or one step away from the relevant journalists.

In truth, how lucky have I been? I talk about and teach the art of building relationships and asking for referrals. Yet when I personally benefit from support from those people with whom I've built relationships, I'm quick to dismiss it as luck. The truth is that I've got the connections I've been looking for because I've been focused on them, built the network around me to reach out to them and understood how to ask.

That's not lucky at all, it's a strategic approach to networking. In a workshop I ran yesterday one of the participants turned to another and said, "this is fine, but we get business from our networking anyway, without any of this planning."

That may be the case, but how much more business can you get if you focus? How much more 'luck' will come your way if you have a clear vision of who you want to speak to and connect to the people who can introduce you?

In a coaching session last week I asked my client where she wants her business to be in one year's time. She didn't know the answer, but it will be a success she said, "fingers crossed".

Stop relying on, or blaming, luck for your success or failure. Take the time to focus on what you want to achieve and how to achieve it. Set clear goals in your mind and then communicate them clearly to the people who want to help you.

Serendipity doesn't come into it. You can create your own good luck and, with the right level of focus, you can be very lucky.

As the famous golfer Gary Player said, "The harder I practice, the luckier I get".

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