Many people are familiar with the initials C.Y.A. being an abbreviation for “cover your a**” but I want to introduce a new way to look at those three letters in regards to growing your network:
Cultivate Your Advocates
At this very moment there are people in your network who think that what you do is really great. They may have mentioned this to you when you met them one on one, they may have written you a kind email, or they may have already referred you to a friend in such a warm way, that you had very little selling to do when you got on the phone. These are the people who believe in the work you do so much that they are willing to brag to others about you. They see you as a value-add to the people in their network and they really connect with you. They are, in essence, your super fans and they will shout your services to the rooftops which make them very important to your business. Unfortunately, because they are so helpful to you it’s easy to take these people for granted and think that they’ll always just be there. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
Imagine if you met your favorite movie star or sports player and they were really kind to you during the meeting. They offered to continue the conversation and have you over their house for dinner etc. Now imagine going home and following up with that person and getting radio silence. Maybe you reach out to them again and they still ignore you. After a few weeks, you might give up or worse you might take their poster down from your wall. The same scenario happens with your advocates all the time. They do amazing things for you. They send you multiple referrals or warm introductions and you get the business. The business then makes you pretty busy so you don’t get a chance to reach out to them and see how they’re doing. Then when the business is over, you might notice that those referrals stopped coming from that person. You may also notice you haven’t heard from them in a while.
The Advocacy just turned to Apathy.
It’s hard to get someone back after that experience and they will likely never be as strong of an advocate for you. So how do you keep these people in your life?
Acknowledge what they do for you.
Always say thank you in a meaningful way when they send you something and also ask them how things are going in their business. Think of ways you can be helpful to them when they ask for help. If you find events that would be of value to them, invite them to check them out. If you host a dinner invite them to the dinner. These are just a few of the things you can do to make your advocates feel special for what they are already doing for you. They have invested their time and energy in you, so you want to invest your time and energy in them. These people are the ones who will drive your business forward the fastest and they deserve extra attention so C.Y.A.
Cultivate Your Advocates
If you do a really good job of this, then when things go wrong, you’ll already have covered you’re a**.