Big league pitcher Lefty Gomez is more famous for saying, “I’d rather be lucky than good”, than for the quality of his pitching. Unfortunately, many marketing and sales professionals have this same attitude. More than once, I have succumbed to the wish for more luck when in truth, it was something else I needed.
A long-time friend and former colleague recently made the observation: “Chris, you have been very lucky in your career.” I answered something to the effect that of course I have been lucky and of course I appreciate this very much. But what my friend didn’t see was the amount of hard work I have put in over the years, and also, the disappointments I have had along the way.
For example, I left two great jobs too early, leaving substantial learning opportunities and stock options on the table. In both cases, I went to where I thought the grass was greener and found it to be more brown than green. I also turned down a job offer with Netscape at a time when the stock options would have secured my financial future in my 30s. By the way, I never regretted this decision because the position was 80 percent travel and this would have taken me away from my children, who were very young at that time.
All of us who make our living in marketing or sales, likely have their own blend of happy successes and painful disappointments. So how do you assure more of the former and less of the latter? Here are six keys to make sure you get your share of the luck:
- Keep showing up. Woody Allen once said “Eighty percent of success is showing up”( the other 20 percent of success is what you do when you show up!). But the problem with being in the right place at the right time is that there is no sign that says, “Make sure you show up today. Great things are going to happen.” If you are not there (wherever there is), you can’t be in a position to spot or respond to opportunities. The bluebird of happiness is not likely to land on your front porch. Whether you want a job, promotion, partnership or anything else worth having in marketing and sales, it usually works better if you go where the good stuff is happening.
- Be visible. Modesty has its place, but you can help it a bit by spreading the good news about who you are and what you are doing. You can do this in-person, via phone or digitally, via the written word (articles, blogs, social media, etc.). People can’t hire you, buy from you, recommend you or partner with you if they don’t know who are. Your job is to stay in front of influencers and decision makers in what I call a “friendly/persistent” manner.
- Be active. This point relates to the first two (showing up and being visible). Marketing and sales both require activity to produce results. People who work hard, especially when they go above and beyond expectations, tend to get lucky. They say that “fortune favors the bold” but it also favors the hard working.
- Build your network. I’ve had people complain about their inability to find a good job and when I view their LinkedIn profile, they only have a handful of connections and very little activity. Start building your network when you don’t need it, and it will be there when you do.
- Do good stuff for other people. Make it a point to answer queries, provide references, put people together, and take other helpful actions, even if the individual requesting assistance can do nothing for you. We all have experienced people who only contact us (or respond) when they want something. Don’t be this type of person. Whether you call this karma, the golden rule, or “what goes around comes around,” those who help others without expectation, often find themselves the beneficiary of unexpected good fortune.
- Give 10 percent more. If you really want to get lucky, practice the “10 percent more” rule. Some examples:
- Make 10% more phone calls.
- Spend 10% more time in front of prospects.
- Devote 10% more effort to your email copy.
- Drive 10% more leads from your website.
- Allocate 10% more time to learning about your profession.
In marketing and sales, it’s all about preparation and action. As Eliyahu Goldratt, author of Theory of Constraints, put it: “Good luck is when opportunity meets preparation, while bad luck is when lack of preparation meets reality.“