Well, that didn’t work out the way I’d hoped — and that’s OK.

For about the past year, I’ve been trying to focus my speaking business on a specific target market. I thought I would try career resource departments at various institutions of higher education. It seemed like a good fit. I love working with the students. They definitely need my help. The departments usually have at least some budget for outside speakers. There are a lot of them from small local community colleges all the way to major, internationally-known universities.

The problem is, at least for the speaking segment of my business, it didn’t fit so well. They don’t usually need keynote speakers. The students don’t have much money, so they are unlikely to want to pay for additional services or products. They also don’t usually belong to other professional organizations where they can bring me in to speak again, so the spin-off business on any given engagement is pretty unlikely.

Don’t get me wrong. I still love to work with colleges and universities. If I should receive a referral to help one of them, of course, I would be happy to work with the students.

They won’t, however, be a focus for my networking efforts.

So, has the last year been wasted? Not a bit. I made great contacts who could still connect me with other opportunities. I had the chance to refine my offerings both with in-person presentations and information products that let people take me home with them. I certainly developed a better understanding of my business and the factors to consider as I select my next target market — maybe banking and finance or maybe entrepreneurs and solo professionals. We’ll see.

I’m certainly much better off than if I had just tried to market my business to “anybody”. I wouldn’t have learned any of these lessons. I would still be in the same place trying to figure out why I wasn’t doing better. I think this is what is standing in the way of most people’s success in networking. They are so afraid of selecting the wrong target market, they end up selecting no target market.

See, the way I look at it, I didn’t so much go down the wrong path, I just took the scenic route.

And that’s a lot better than just leaving the car parked in the garage.

Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Squashpup