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Communication Coach: How to activate your network and grow personal relationships in 2024

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(Photo: iStock.com/onurdongel)
(Photo: iStock.com/onurdongel)
Jeff Korhan
Jeff Korhan

Long before social media networking, we grew our personal relationships by connecting over lunch or coffee. It’s a practice that requires a realistic time commitment and that’s precisely why it works so well to grow lasting relationships.

This was how I met many local business leaders, suppliers and a few competitors who helped me with my early struggles as a landscape contractor. Decades later I can still recall how those conversations opened doors for our team to find its way.

My advice for breaking through obstacles is to employ this practice to discover how others have made their way through them. Don’t be the fiercely independent entrepreneur that defines many of us. The solutions are out there if you make the effort to find them.

Reaching out to industry leaders may take you out of your comfort zone, but it’s something you’ll get used to if you give it a try. We all need fresh perspectives and that’s why those you reach out to will more than likely welcome the opportunity to accept your meeting request.

Here’s what worked for me.

  1. Plan to connect with non-competing landscape contractors during your travels. Research the company and its leaders and give them plenty of advance notice.
  2. Be specific about your intentions when you call. State the purpose of the meeting and explain why you will appreciate them taking time out of their busy schedule.
  3. Show up prepared with anything that may be useful. This may be stories you’ve learned about their achievements or photos of your operations or typical projects.
  4. Make a list of open-ended questions to gain big insights, and specific questions to drill down on challenges where you need help now. My favorite question is how they attract and uniquely retain clients.
  5. Follow up after the meeting. Offer to return the favor and be a resource. Thank them and everyone to whom you were introduced. There’s a good chance you’ll see them again.

When I think back on initially meeting industry legends this way, such as Mike Rorie, Frank Mariani and John Gachina, I was surprised they took the meetings. Yet, I realized they learned early in their careers that everyone has something to offer. You’ll never know what that is unless you seek out and take these meetings.

Make 2024 your year to keep this practice alive. It’s what makes this industry unique. We’re in this together and benefit from helping each other grow.

Jeff Korhan

Jeff Korhan

Jeff Korhan is the owner of True Nature Marketing, a Naples, Fla.-based company helping entrepreneurs grow. Reach him at jeff@truenature.com. Jeff works with service companies that want to drive growth and enhance their brand experience with digital platforms.

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