Mary is the CEO of Shores Communications, a communication expert and an author who helps clients create connections and increase revenue.
I’m sure most entrepreneurs can agree that we have a sixth sense for opportunity. When we’re networking, we can usually tell what opportunities will pan out and what opportunities won’t be a good fit.
For me, I can typically visualize an opportunity’s journey from start to finish. Having this confidence makes it that much more motivating to seek the opportunity and watch where it takes me. On the flip side, if I get a bad feeling about an opportunity, I can typically visualize where any pitfalls may occur, and I feel confident going in a different direction instead.
If you’re reading this and thinking, “Well, I don’t have that sixth sense,” you’re definitely not alone. The good news is that the skill is teachable, and you can start discerning which opportunities are worthwhile (and which aren’t) with practice and dedication.
If you’re interested in gaining the skill of finding the best opportunities for your business, keep reading for three quick tips to get started on the journey right away. Soon enough, you’ll be finding more and more opportunities for you and your business!
Keep your eyes open.
The truth is, opportunities for your business can come when you least expect them. For example, I’ve met people on LinkedIn who have turned into some of my closest connections in my industry. When you’re first messaging someone on LinkedIn, it may not seem like a business opportunity on the surface. Looking deeper, you can sometimes see potential for collaboration or partnership.
That’s why it’s so important to keep your eyes open. Ask the people you meet about their experience, what their goals are and what they need to further their goals. Then, see how their answers intertwine with your own.
If you have your eyes closed to opportunities, you may overlook nontraditional connections, which can cause you to miss out. So, look for opportunities in even the most unexpected places, and you’ll start to develop a sense of which of these opportunities will work and which won’t.
Keep your mind primed.
Even if your eyes are open to new opportunities, you can miss out on greatness when you don’t have the right mindset. So, keep your mind primed for opportunities as well. Let me explain what I mean.
When your mind is primed for opportunities, you often feel open and willing to try new things in order to take your business in directions you haven’t considered before. On the flip side, if your mind is closed to opportunities, you may see lots of options for yourself, but you won’t be willing to pursue them if they don’t fit a certain goal.
To put this into perspective, let me share a brief example from my professional life: In 2005, I completely changed the direction of my business. I work in debt collection, so you can imagine the number of stressful phone calls my team and I engage in on a daily basis, and over time it started to get to me. So, I pursued a new opportunity: adding empathy to collection calls.
Since then, I’ve completely transformed my business, and I’ve started a communication business to train other professionals to communicate with empathy as well. None of this would have been possible if I’d remained stuck in the same mindset and closed my mind to new opportunities.
Practice for progress.
If seeking opportunities isn’t natural for you, that’s OK. The trick is to practice keeping your eyes open and your mind primed until finding the best opportunities becomes a sixth sense for you too.
To practice keeping your eyes open, try to remind yourself to look for opportunities in unexpected places. For example, if you’re networking at a conference, go out of your comfort zone to meet new connections, even connections that work outside your immediate industry. I pursue connections who work in the credit union industry even though I work in debt collection because I see several areas of alignment, and I know that limiting myself to third-party collections connections will limit my opportunities as well.
Also, remind yourself to stay open-minded. For example, if someone comes to you with a business collaboration idea that you wouldn’t normally pursue, don’t dismiss it right away. Practice by thinking through the different ways the opportunity could play out, and if you see a positive outcome, put yourself out there and pursue it!
Sure, sometimes opportunities won’t play out well, even if you are discerning. One of the biggest mistakes you can make as an entrepreneur is fearing failure. Don’t let those anxieties hold you back. Failure will happen sometimes, and that’s OK because as you get more comfortable pursuing new opportunities, success will come too. You just need to have the courage to take those first steps.
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