Developing Your Strategy – Step 4 – Making Business Connections

Continuing with developing your strategy list in Step 3 where you focussed on your ultimate goal, you should have been able to match up some of your current skills and attributes to what you will need to retain moving forward to your ultimate goal. However, there are going to be things on your strategy list that have nothing next to them and it is these you need to focus on next. It is important to identify these gaps and match them with some actions and this is where making business connections comes into play.

(An aside: I have just realised that some might be finding these lists and the moving things around a little confusing. Fear not, I’ll draw up a flow diagram shortly which you can use in conjunction with this series of articles.)

Consider the un-partnered points.  Stand back and think what and how you could develop skills, make business connections and build relationships, get tools or find out information on these lonely points.

Do you need to take a course to acquire a new skill? Do you need to find someone to train you?  Are there associations that would be helpful in stepping into the world you wish to inhabit? Are there periodicals you should be subscribing to? Can social media get you to where you want to go? Should you be purchasing tools that may be needed by your named big shiny goal?

Making business connections is a two-way street

Note here that the questions you should be considering will be based around connection.  Not all are direct human connection but there is, nonetheless, give and take connections both on your part and theirs even if they are inanimate.

Perhaps there are those already doing what you have named as your big, shiny goal – go and meet them, reach out to them, network with them. These are important business connections for your future plans.

One of the most valuable lessons I learned at this point is that most people genuinely want to help when approached in the right way and if asked.  It seems to be a quality that pervades the human spirit.  However, it is very, very, very important that you consider carefully how you are going to approach these people. Making business connections should be a process of give and take.

From personal experience (and sadly too many times) I have been approached by what I term the ‘gimme’ people.  They approach me and are so focussed on what they want to get from me and nothing else, that it is palpable.  This, I can assure you, is an instant turnoff and guarantees that I will not be offering my help readily.

When making business connections – consider what you can offer in return

When I am the one seeking 1-2-1 help or have a request, I sit back beforehand and consider what I can offer them.  It may be relatively small in comparison to what they may be able to give me but at least it is something.  The best image I can use to describe what I mean is turning up to a dinner party with a gift in hand such as a bottle of wine or turning up empty handed but ready to gorge on whatever your host is offering.  Please don’t be the latter.

The other trick to adopt when approaching an unknown person that you respect or admire in the position you wish to be, is to research their background a little.  I don’t mean stalk them! However, if they are an authority in your chosen field look up any books or papers they have written, watch any talks they may have given, make notes on things that they have recounted where you share a common interest.

People like talking about themselves and if you are informed enough you can ask pertinent questions or ask them to explain further.  It’s a great way to begin a conversation and it shows you are interested in them and what they have to say which, in turn, will make them more predisposed to be interested in you.  When making business connections this way you are showing you respect their field, their contribution and their place in that industry. Just don’t forget to listen properly to what they have to say to you.

Once you have finished considering and planning the above you should now be able to now partner some of your new thoughts to the step 3 ultimate goal strategy list.  Keep going around this step 4 until everything has a partner.

That is now your strategy complete.  The next step will be the start of formulating your tactics in preparation to taking action!


If you would like to read the whole series in Finding Your Purpose and How to Achieve It here is the start, step 1, step 2 and step 3.

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