I think I’ve done it. No, really, I have. I’ve figured it all out. I’ve found the Rosetta Stone to life - a blueprint strategy that can be implemented in any area, to achieve success and ultimate happiness.
Make connections, generate leads, qualify potential, hard close. It’s as simple as that, in theory at least. What’s that simple, you ask? Well, getting anything you want out of life, of course. It could be a business endeavor, generating sales, making friends, finding lovers, planning for vacation, literally anything. Here, let me explain, and then show you a few examples. That way, by the end of this article, you’ll be convinced that anything can be achieved with these four tenants, followed in order:
The key to anything is connections. If you think back to any one of your past successes, you’ll see that it all began with a connection. It could have been a person, place, or even a thing, but you were connected to it in some way, and that special relationship sparked the journey that led to the ultimate success.
Let’s take a job opportunity, for example, because it’s the easiest to conceptualize. When you’ve been working a job for “forever," and then a friend recognizes your dissatisfaction and skill, and recommends you for an open position at her firm, it was the connection that led to the opportunity.
See? Connections are the first step in moving forward with any endeavor. How about if you’re thinking of moving across the country? This entire article spawned from the time I’ve been having in Austin, living the location-independent lifestyle. To move permanently or not to move permanently? Well, the first step, of course, would be to make connections, both with the people of the city as well as with the city itself, and see how they resonate with my lifestyle.
How about a lover? (Hm, what should I call this? I always cringe when I say “lover,” but I think it’s better than saying “people I hook up with,” or “my temporary boyfriend / girlfriend”). Well, regardless of term, we all know that when you’re looking for companionship, either emotionally or physically, the first step is to make connections with people, in the hopes of finding “that special someone.” You see, connections start the process, even in love.
Ok, no more examples needed. I think we get it. No matter what it is you want out of life, whether it be to start a billion-dollar unicorn or find your husband or wife, it all starts with connections. It is the first of the four tenants of the blueprint. Making connections, then, naturally evolves to the next step.
If you’re in sales, you know how important it is to generate leads. And if you are in sales, you also know leads naturally come out of the relationships you have with your connections. So then, generating leads is a necessity, but it can’t be done without first forming connections with people, places, or things.
But let’s say you’ve made a sufficient amount of connections. You can now start to think about the blueprint like a funnel, slowly squeezing and pushing, so that only the people, places, or things that are going to help you in your journey make it to the other end. Using the sales example, if you make 10 connections at a conference, and you call on all 10 of them, maybe only six actually return your call or express further interest in your product or service. That’s the funnel process that lies between “making connections” and “generating leads."
Yawn, sales are boring, how bout that lover stuff again? You read my mind!
I think we’ve all caught on, but the same process holds true when you’re looking for your husband / wife / boyfriend / girlfriend / (insert politically correct, gender-amorphous term here). How did you meet your current partner? How did you meet your previous one? I’d guess that you went out in your 20s and 30s, met a ton of people who you were attracted to, and slowly whittled the people down. Well then, if this is true, you’ve implemented the same process that businessmen and women use ever day.
You make connections with a bunch of people (sometimes physically ?). Then, after talking with all of them and filtering through, you take the interested ones and hot leads as potential lovers.
One more. How about that location-specific goal? Well, think about it this way: If you’re thinking about moving somewhere but are torn between two places, try living in each place for a few months and making connections with the people and areas of both area. Then based on the experiences you had, generate leads regarding where you might live.
See, the second step to any endeavor is to generate leads from the connections you’ve made. Business, social, emotional or otherwise, it doesn’t matter, always follow these first two steps.
And then the funnel gets smaller. Once you’ve made connections and generated leads from said connections, it’s time to qualify the potential of those leads. Everyone who’s ever tried to close a sale knows that while leads may seem hot, there’s no way of actually knowing the probability that they’ll turn into a client, until the potential of the candidate is qualified.
Think about it this way: You go to that conference and make 10 connections, all of them seem like nice people, but only six of the 10 express additional interest in your product or service. Great! Looks like you have six new customers. Wrong. After calling an all of them again, you find out that while all six want what you’re selling, two of them can’t afford it, and two more are trying too hard to haggle. That means you’re left with two leads that have the potential of converting into paying customers. By verifying all six leads, you’ve essentially qualified - or disqualified - each one.
Now let’s talk sex. Yay! You went out to a bar, you made connections with people (bought drinks or had drinks bought for you, depending on gender), you generated leads based on the connections you found most interesting, and now you’ve come to the point in the night (probably around midnight), when it’s time to qualify the potential of the leads. Let’s say that out of the 10 guys who offered to buy you drinks and asked for your number, you found four of them to be cute and engaging (too high a percentage of “good guys,” ladies?).
As you talk to the four throughout the night, you realize that one still lives with his mom, and another one is too arrogant for you to stomach. That means that out of the four leads you generated for a fun night, only two of them qualify as guys you’d consider taking home.
Oh yeah, remember the job that your friend recommended you for, the example from the first section? Well, what if, after realizing you didn’t like your current job, you applied to multiple open positions, rather than taking your friends offer off the bat? Out of the 10 you applied to, five called back and requested an interview, meaning you generated five leads from your 10 connections. Then, after taking all five interviews, you realize that you’re only a culture fit at two of the companies. Congratulations, you’ve just qualified the potential of your leads.
And finally, the ultimatum I’ve given myself about moving. I’ve lived in Austin for 2 weeks now, I’ve lived in San Francisco for three years, and I’ll live in Los Angeles for a few months before the year’s over. I’ll make connections with each place, generate leads regarding where I could potentially live, and then qualify the potential of each location by comparing it to my life and the life I want to live. Then, the places that fit most closely with my goals and endeavors would be considered qualified potential.
The time’s come, as it always does at this point of the night. Sorry, thinking sex again, but it’s a good example of these four tenants. Plus, I’m tired of talking about sales. You, as a man, made connections early in the night, generated leads from those connections by buying the attractive ones drinks, qualified those leads by flirting and getting to know them better, and then…you know.
It’s time to hard close. If what you’re after is companionship, the only way you’re going to succeed is if you seal the deal. There’s no beating around the bush, the time is now. You see, the blueprint only works if you follow all four tenants to completion. You’ve gotten to the final step - the one where you actually achieve the goal you’ve desired all this time. There is no room to second guess yourself, pause, or rethink. Just go for it.
You see, the thing is that we, as humans, have this amazing ability where we can think and reason and project our thoughts into the future. However, the side effect of this is that we can question whether we’re making the right decision or not. Well, more often than not, making a firm decision, in itself, is the correct decision.
Let’s take my dilemma: where to live next (what a tough life to live, woe is me, right?). At the end of the day, I’m going to have an amazing time and an unforgettable life experience wherever I choose. So then, the downside of the choice actually comes before the choice is made, when there’s the pre-fear of poor decisions. It’s like the experiment run by Dan Gilbert, where he found that people who were given a painting without a choice actually enjoyed the piece of art more than a second group of people who were allowed to take the painting home and exchange it for another if they wanted to. The curse of choice!
Therefore, at the end of our blueprint, we have to trust that we’ve made the right connections, generated sufficient leads, and qualified the potential of our new network. That way, when we’re faced with the last step, the hard close, we can stand by a decision with 100% conviction, because we know we’ve done all the pre-work to set ourselves up for success.
That new job? Just take it already! The person you want to date? Ask them out please. That company you want to start? Take the leap, my friend. The new place you’re thinking about living? Just move.
You see, if you follow each of these four tenants, you can propel yourself in any direction you want. Remember: Make connections, generate leads, qualify potential, and hard close. It’s as easy as that, on paper at least. No matter what it is you want to achieve, what goal you want to attain, if you start with a connection and end with a hard close, chances are you’ll get there before you know it.
Just remember this: the more connections you make the more successful you’ll become because your funnel will be larger. So, whatever it is you want, and even if you don’t know what it is yet, the first step is always to get outside and connect.