Even the best leaders and entrepreneurs get stuck. The path to success always includes at least a few roadblocks, some larger than others. As a business coach, I recognize that once you hit a roadblock, it can be a challenge to get things moving again, but leaders have a duty to figure out how to get things back on track.
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When businesses ask me how to move forward, I always give the same tip: "It's all about the network." It's common for company leaders to want to DIY the situation, relying on their own abilities or internal solutions to resolve a problem. However, to really make progress, look around. You'll find the roadside assistance you need.
Here are a few tips:
1. Ask Your Connections For Help
I can almost guarantee that someone in your network has faced and possibly conquered the problem you're currently struggling with. A good first step is to reach out to your connections and find that person. More than likely, a few of your "one-step" connections will at the very least be able to offer you advice on the situation and counsel you on the best way to proceed.
2. Look for People Outside Your Network Who May Have the Answers
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Think of this process like using LinkedIn. If you aren't finding the information you need within your immediate circle of connections, start networking. Look for experts in your connections' connections. While it might not be as easy as navigating a social media profile (which is in itself an option!), here are two easy tips on how to do it:
- Widen your search: End each meeting by asking, "Who else do you know whom I should talk to about this?" Even if your connection didn't have the answers you need, they may know the perfect person for your scenario.
- Ask for an introduction: I'm actually a bit of an introvert. When it comes to face-to-face interaction with someone – in particular someone whom I've never met – the direct approach isn't my ideal strategy. I prefer to find a mutual connection who can initiate the meeting more naturally and take the pressure off. If your connection knows someone who could be of help, ask them to do the honors.
3. Constantly Expand Your Network
One of my mentors, Robert Wagnon, said, "To have an extraordinary life, you have to surround yourself with extraordinary people." I take that advice and consistently apply it in my coaching sessions. For situations that take place over a longer period of time, or to be proactive when problems arise, I recommend that leaders look for intentional ways to grow their networks.
First, identify and join organizations that will support your professional and personal goals. Almost every industry has organizations that facilitate meetings, conferences, and professional connections. Also, look for groups in your local community where you can meet individuals outside of your industry. There are some great organizations out there for broadening your network – Entrepreneurs' Organization, Vista, your area Chamber of Commerce, and local business organizations, just to name a few.
Second, when attending an event, try to meet as many people as possible. Organizations will often have directories you can use to find people with the right expertise for your specific needs. Be sure to follow up with people you meet afterward as well, which shows your genuine interest and deepens the connection.
4. Get a Coach
Once, I had a problem getting a line of credit that I needed for one of my businesses. I had been roadblocked by this for two years. When I finally looked around at my network, I found a friend who had worked in banking and went on to raise money from banks to fund his businesses. I asked him to coach me, and after a few sessions, I got the credit line I needed at the first bank he sent me to.
Finding the right coach can be a complete game-changer. The area that you're struggling in may be someone else's expertise. Coaches not only provide guidance in sticky situations, but they also can motivate you and hold you accountable for the goals you set. A few meetings in, and that roadblock could be a thing of the past!
Roadblocks are never easy to deal with, but they are inevitable. Before you get too hung up on your obstacle, check out your network. The solution may already be within reach.