Tuesday, June 05, 2007

9 Ways to Create Strategic Serendipity

It’s not luck.
It’s not chance.
It’s not accidental.

It’s not even serendipity. (Not completely, that is.)

“Strategic” Serendipity means attending an event, conference or other networking-rich venue with an attitude of expectation.

That something great is going to happen.

That opportunity is going fall right into your lap.

That you’re going to meet that one person who changes everything.

Here are 8 keys to practicing Strategic Serendipity:

1. Detach from outcomes. Sure, you have goals. Maybe to sell. Maybe to get in front of the right buyers. However, also try to focus less on the outcome and more on the big picture. Free yourself from agendas. Develop a no-entitlement attitude. And focus on having fun, delivering value and creating a memorable (er, unforgettable) presence.

2. Prepare yourself mentally. Before walking in the front door, spend 15 minutes affirming to yourself, “Today is going to be a great day! I’m going to meet cool people and give them value. Opportunities are going to come my way. I will attract success.”

3. Come prepared. Have every marketing material, business card and any other part of your networking arsenal easily accessible. Wear army pants and bring a backpack if you have to! Expectation attracts; but only if it’s supported with action.

4. Grow bigger ears. Listen to what the world is trying to tell you. Be on the lookout for people, situations and locations that seem to be begging you to approach them. Especially the unusual, unexpected ones.

For example, I once walked by massage booth at conference. The massage therapist saw my nametag and said, “Scott, would you like a massage?” I thought about it for a moment, said yes, sat down and enjoyed my massage. A few minutes later when I rose out of my chair, the woman who was next to me in line turned out to be a reporter for a major newspaper. We struck up a conversation that ended in a 30-minute interview and a 2-page article!

LESSON LEARNED: say yes more.

5. Evaluate your surroundings. If you’re attending an event, conference or trade show, be prudent about geography. Ask yourself the following questions:

a. Where will I be the most visible?
b. What landmark are people constantly walking by?
c. Where are people most likely to engage with me?
d. Who can I meet that is likely to tell his friends about me?
e. Who else is this room could be that ONE guy that changes everything?

6. Stick yourself out there. Don’t plan so darn much. Just show up and be prepared to let new people and situations unfold by themselves. Put out your raft and ride the current. It will take you where you’re supposed to go.

7. Extend every encounter. When talking with someone new, ask if they’d like to continue the conversation over lunch or coffee. Keep the interaction alive. The longer you spend with someone, the more likely you are to discover how you can help each other. Also, find out if there are other events, happy hour or post-conference parties you could attend together.

8. Make your memory happy. After you meet someone, WRITE DOWN (either on their business card or elsewhere) the following things:

a. What she looked like
b. What you talked about
c. A few bits of personal info you can bring up next time you talk
d. How you can help each other
e. What your CPI (Common Point of Interest) is

9. Follow up. Use the information gathered from the previous example in your second approach. Prove your listening skills. Then, deliver something valuable like a link, recommendation or article.

HERE'S THE CHALLENGE: with Strategic Serendipity, you won’t always know when it worked.

Defining the ROI of something like this is tough.

But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t work.

JUST KNOW THIS: when you develop an attitude of expectation, prepare yourself mentally AND physically, and when you stick yourself out there, they WILL come to you.

“They,” meaning people.
“They,” meaning opportunities.
“They,” meaning new business.

Because it’s not chance. It’s not luck. And it’s not accidental.

It’s Strategic Serendipity.

And it works.

How do you create serendipity?

Share your best story here (and lessons learned) here!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag

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