Health Scare and the Power of Relationships

If you follow me regularly on LinkedIn, you might have noticed a post I did a week ago about a health scare I had.  In short, after a hard week of a very nasty virus I lost the ability to speak clearly, swallow effectively and blow my nose.  Basically, the right side of my tongue, jaw and cheek were compromised somehow and I was scared to death.

Basically, I speak for a living.  Whether it be one on one in coaching/consulting or in larger groups, I earn my income from my ability to speak clearly and effectively on complex and lucrative subjects.

In addition to my career spent learning and teaching about how to do business by referral better and more predictably, I am very passionate about exit planning and value creation for private business.  This is because, due to the extremely early and traumatic birth of my first child, I have had to sell (for a pittance) companies that I had developed and grew around the world.

Sometimes you don’t get to pick your exit.  I was experiencing a terrifying moment of potential deja vu last week as I wondered if I was going to lose everything once again.

Enter relationships.  As anyone that does business by referral, (whether you are just getting nice surprises or like my clients you are strategically building a predictable pipeline of referral introductions to your ideal clients), the ability to build and grow relationships is the key.  I would argue that the same ability is a game changer when it comes to exit planning and growing value in companies.

After all, at the core of my referral system is being a ‘safe driver’, someone that can be trusted to be aware and careful of other people's relationships and can be expected to return those relationships better than before.

I got the great news Tuesday after a very long holiday weekend agonizing about what the results would be.  I was afraid of stroke and scared about the uncertainty of the recovery process (stroke or not) and its impact on the very time constrained rest of the year for my business(s).  Would I be able to work and when would I be able to be ‘back to normal’.

Even better news is that my speech and swallowing have been improving tremendously the past 24 hours and I am back to working with my clients.  But, that isn’t the point of this blog.

Here is the point: I was out of commission for two weeks and didn’t lose a client.  I, in contrast, was lifted up by the prayers and constant messaging and encouragement from all my clients for that scary two weeks.  They know who they are and all you need to know is that they are and always have been my heroes.

I have often remarked that referral based marketing is unique in this way:  you own it (for better or worse)

I am blessed to own a deep and dedicated referral network of clients and friends (a lot of former clients in that cadre).  While I know that they are the real rock stars, I was integral in building the relationships with each of them and it just paid off big time.

Faced with know certainty about when I would recover, I was buoyed by my clients dedication to me personally and a growing knowledge that even if I remained with significant speech challenges…we would find a way together to make it work.

There are challenges with doing business by referral in a tech crazed and AI influenced business world, but, there are absolutely amazing opportunities as well.  Referrals are the humane way to market, the way of marketing that will demand and drive your personal growth as a direct result of your commitmen to building and care taking of relationships.

I remain even more passionate about my crusade to put the human back at the front of the marketing universe through the ‘OG’ form of marketing: referrals.  If you are the owner of a financial services firm, I would encourage you to answer the following questions;

  1. How much direct marketing spend in dollars do you direct to the most powerful way you grow your business?  (its referrals)
  2. What percentage of your marketing budget is that and how does it factor into the percentage of your business that came and is coming to you (your firm) by referral?

There is a very good chance you will discover that you have (a) drastically underfunded the most important part of your marketing plan and (b) that you have a great opportunity to invest a lot more time and money into the most likely way to grow:  referrals.

Related: Advanced Strategies for Building Strong COI Relationships