There is a direct correlation between success and a founder who is plugged into the ecosystem of this industry. The Natural Products industry is incestuous in a good way. Those who achieve do so hoisted onto the shoulders of others. So, if you are not feeling connected, if you don’t know at least a dozen people capable of helping your business whom you could call right now, you better change that quickly.
When I suggest to entrepreneurs that they need to focus on building their network, the typical response is “I don’t have the time, and even if I did, it makes me uncomfortable.” I get it. I used to feel the same.
The thought of going to events like trade shows or morning mingles to meet people, tell them about what I do, and hopefully, make some meaningful connections made me want to barf! I was and remain a reluctant self-promoter. The challenge was that reticence did not serve my business or the brands we support well.
Since the very beginning, I’ve been investing in a business coach. One of the many ways in which he pushed me and challenged me was to grow my network, to get “plugged-in.” He knew it was crucial, and he was relentless. I fought it for a while and finally accepted that he was right. I needed to take action.
The question was, could I find comfort within the discomfort of networking? I spent a bit of time trying to figure that out. I don’t know when it switched or the cause of it. One day I recognized that what made networking so uncomfortable was me. I didn’t like “me” being the subject. What I wanted, who I was, what I did, talking on any of those topics made me feel salesy and sleazy.
If the subject of “me” was at the root of my discomfort, how would I feel if I flipped it around? What if I made it about them? Learning about them, who they were, what they did, and how I could help never felt gross. It felt damn good. I had no idea at that moment that this flip would change everything for me.
I recognize now that what started then and what continues today was launching karmic boomerangs. I am a dirty capitalist, happy to admit it. Leaning in and learning about the person you’ve just met to explore how you might be able to help them, is a great business strategy. I think it was Ben Franklin who said, “Do well by doing good.” I completely agree that there is no better way.
These boomerangs can’t be feigned or hollow. They must be authentic and heartfelt, offered without an expectation of reciprocity, launched fully and freely.
Launch karmic boomerangs and whether from those who are the recipients of your goodwill or from other sources, this ecosystem will return to you that giving in spades. I’ve been the beneficiary of incredible generosity. People have opened doors, provided feedback, and taken the time to teach me something new. The support has been overwhelming. It has created treasured friendships with a level of connection that I never had in the past.
I don’t offer this article in an attempt to persuade you that I am a good guy. I am all right but, I am still as irreverent and at as times socially inappropriate as I’ve always been. What I am is a driven entrepreneur. Tossing out as many karmic boomerangs has proven to be good for business. The fact that it has made me happier, more fulfilled, and comfortable with networking is only gravy. Thanks for reading. Be well and do good.