The Potato Chip Plan

“I love it when a plan comes together!”
~  John ‘Hannibal’ Smith, the A-Team

Shortly before our second daughter, Abby, was born, I spent some time focusing on my physical health. By the time she arrived, I had achieved my ideal weight and was feeling pretty pleased with myself.

I think the word we’re searching for is “hubris” and the phrase “Pride goeth before the fall” can’t be too far behind.

Not long after, I had regained all my past weight and it wasn’t muscle. The problem was our dear child Abby was keeping us up nights. When you are in survival mode like this, your body makes a simple deal with you: You won’t let me sleep? Fine. Give me something to eat instead! In and of itself, this isn’t a bad thing. The bad part is that since we had no plan to deal with this situation, I was much more likely to grab and consume a family-size bag of potato chips in one sitting than I was to make a healthy stir-fry for myself.

Something similar happens when you network at a stressful point in your life. If you are concerned about making payroll, or you need to pay the utilities, or maybe you had to make a cash outlay for some large project, suddenly you slip into survival mode. Without a plan, your networking turns into prospecting. All those relationships you’ve built so carefully over time start looking like sales opportunities.

As soon as you start hard selling to your friends and acquaintances, they tend to go away.

Far better to develop a plan to ask for help from your network. Instead of looking out for yourself, find ways to serve them. Rather than extolling the virtues of your product or service, be curious about those offered by your connections. Don’t ask them if they want to buy from you. Ask them if they know the people you are trying to reach who might want to buy.

Remember, if you don’t have a plan for the “survival” times, you are in danger of slipping into behaviors which might cost you more than you will gain.

And you won’t even get to enjoy the potato chips.

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Greg Peters, president and founder of The Reluctant Networker, LLC, is a business networking specialist. He works with trade associations on both the local and national level to create a culture of better connections and greater opportunity. Find out more at www.TheReluctantNetworker.com or gpeters@thereluctantnetworker.com.

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