Business development starts with forging relationships whether casual or long-lasting. Some of the greatest relationships you will ever make are working for a cause close to your heart. You will find that it will lead to some of your best win-win future business relationships.
I am late this month with my column because one of my previous managing partners invited me to join his work crew on a Habitat for Humanity mission and I had a ton of things to arrange and do before leaving last Thursday.
It is now 5:30 in the morning, 12 hours ahead of Toronto, and I am sitting at a table, on the beach in Bali watching the sun begin to rise, people loading on boats to go see dolphins, and writing to you about business development.
I have just met 14 of the most giving, nice, and fun-loving people you could ever wish to meet in a lifetime! Ages range from 19 to 60s, mostly Canadian but one Scot, from student to car dealership owner, investment person to lawyer, retiree, and then me.
I have only known these people for three full days, and I would entrust my life and my finances to any of them. We have already together dug septic tank pits, three-metre clean water pits, moved hundreds of bricks, and starting laying bricks. No one has yet left me in the pit without a ladder!! We work alongside the locals and the future owners of the houses we are building as well as Habitat for Humanity skilled workers (thankfully — we want the houses to last)!
Some of us are up for 6 a.m. for yoga, and all of us at 7 for breakfast, 8 on the bus to then an hour in minibuses climbing to the top of a volcano lip to our worksite. We eat all meals together made onsite by the local soon-to-be homeowners, work 9-4 and get back in the buses for the careening drive down the volcano on pretty much one-lane roads. I haven’t yet felt afraid.
Three days and I feel like I have another family. One of our crew celebrated her birthday yesterday and we will all remember the day for the rest of our lives.
I have advised you all before to join an association, a non-profit, a community group — meet people that might eventually help you develop business. You should never join a group just to join a group to develop business. It only mutually works out for the long-term if you join for genuine reasons because everyone can smell an inauthentic rat.
I have spent many years on boards dedicated to housing. I believe that everyone needs a home from which to do anything else. If you are spending all of your day trying to figure out where to lay your head at night, you cannot think of much else.
It was also shocking to know that so many people need affordable housing aside from who you might immediately associate with homelessness who only represent about 10 per cent of people in need. I am also working on the RESOLVE campaign in Calgary, a globally innovative idea that has nine housing agencies collaborating to raise money for all these agencies and build 3,000 new homes. Habitat for Humanity was my next logical step in helping provide homes. It has also led to more than 14 wonderful, new, and hopefully life-time relationships.
Get out and find a cause to donate your time and give back to the world. Even if your pockets aren’t immediately filled your heart will be.