Acing The Negative Stress Test

Have you ever had a “stress test?” I had one just last week.

The purpose, more or less, is to test your heart and make sure all is functioning properly.

In my case, as a man older than, let’s say 35, my doctor thought it would be a good idea. And so off I went to the local hospital.

The process is quite straightforward…

First, they attach a bunch (I think it was 8) of EKG sticky things with wires to your chest.

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Next, they take a resting, baseline measurement while you’re just sitting there.

Finally, they put you on a treadmill and you start walking.

Nothing hard about that.

At least for the first three minutes, that is. Because when you reach the three-minute mark, two things happen: both the speed and incline increase.

But still, not a big deal. You’re still walking, you’ve just moved up from “leisurely stroll” to “let’s give the dog a little bit of exercise.”

Guess what happens at six minutes. Yep – more speed, more incline.

Now you’re starting to really move; depending on how long your legs are, it might be time to break into a run.

And so it goes – every three minutes, an additional increase in speed and incline.

When does it stop? Well, that’s kind of the point. They are trying to stress your heart to the maximum. And so your job is to go until you can go no more – you tell them when you’re ready to stop.

And so stop I finally did (12 minutes, 35 seconds, thank you very much). Then, once again, they measure your heart.

You’ll be relieved to know that I’m apparently quite healthy. But there’s even more good news for you today:

Relationship marketing and its related activities – newsletter publishing, social media participating, systematically staying in touch with the people you know, etc. – works in precisely the opposite way as a stress test…

The longer you do it, the easier it gets.

That’s a critical insight for those of us looking to expand our respective solo professional businesses.

Because if you don’t understand that when it comes to relationship marketing, the hard work – the grinding, uphill, sweaty battle – is at the beginning, and that over time it will get both easier and more effective, you’re very likely to give up too soon.

It would be as if someone gave you a “negative stress test,” dropping you on a treadmill, cold, at the 12-minute mark … but never hinting that before you know it, things will be getting a whole lot easier.

Well, today I’m doing more than hinting. I’m telling you, as clearly as I can, that the longer you engage in relationship marketing, the easier and more fruitful it will become.

The more regularly you stay in touch with the people you know, the more they’ll stay in touch with you (and bring you business).

The more consistently you publish your newsletter, the more people who will notice it, read it and share it (and bring you business).

The more available, helpful and “out there” you are, the more other people will be available, helpful and “out there” for you (and bring you business).

Are you beginning to sense a pattern?

Here’s the bottom line. I know relationship marketing is hard in the beginning; it’s a lot of effort for (usually) no immediate payback. But that’s why they call it “the beginning.”

Your job, my tired, sweaty friend, is to stay on the treadmill just a little bit longer.

How long did it take you to get your first, “relationship-based” new client? Share your thoughts below.

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9 thoughts on “Acing The Negative Stress Test

  1. Charles Alexander

    If they wanted to give you a real stress test, they should have asked you to hold your phone, turn a tv onto a 24 hour news network, and have your wife asking you which dress she should wear.

    I started a part-time business developing newsletters for “busy professionals” last year. The relationships that I built were from my full-time gig that I have now had for 8 years.

    I immediately got clients, but only because I had been cultivating those relationships for a long, long time.

    1. Michael Katz Post author

      Hi Charlies!
      That’s a great relationship marketing success story.
      And you’re right, what you describe would make for a fine stress test – although they don’t want to actually kill you!

  2. Leslie Lawton

    Thanks for continuing to send out emails like this one! So incredibly helpful, and of course your writing style brings each point home. Straight from your life experience. It appears you’ve gone back to posting in print. I had a lot of resistance to “reading” you on video. I wonder if that was the case with others.

    Just a note. Your email drop down interrupted me in the midst of writing this. One of my own questions. When and where? They do definitely convert. But timing is everything. Anyway, I’m already a very happy Penguin reader.

    1. Michael Katz Post author

      Hi Leslie!
      Thanks for writing; I’m glad you enjoy the newsletters.
      The drop-down box which invites people to subscribe is set to occur just once a year per person, so hopeful not too intrusive. Not sure on how long it waits to drop – I think it’s automated by the service I use.

  3. Jeremy Bromberg

    Good summary, Michael – thank you!

    From the vantage point of someone who’s certainly “out there” (and I’m NOT talking physical presence!), the time to build the relationship and generate results is it’s own kind of stress test. The anxiety, the wondering what I’m not doing enough of or well is a frequent question / challenge.

    You are correct, the doing gets easier especially with some timely positive feedback. In the meantime, I equate the relationship building process with a home improvement project. You begin knowing the task will likely take longer than you expect or hope, you’ll have to make multiple trips back to the hardware store, and you must remain calm and open minded / solutions oriented. You have to keep your eyes on the prize.

    Seven years and a couple dozen clients later, I don’t think any of the clients thus far qualify as the result of building a relationship from scratch (the referrals have been rather warm, I guess), but I am in the process you describe now with several. I’m guessing it’ll be about a 6-month build.

    Enjoy your weekend, my healthy friend!

    1. Michael Katz Post author

      That’s a great analogy with the home improvement project, Jeremy. Stay stress-free (I intended to make a stress joke regarding all the boldface type but you beat me to the punch!).

  4. Rick Siderfin

    Another great post Michael, I am relieved you have been found to be healthy, not only because you are a very nice chap, but also [more selfishly] because I want you to stay on the relationship marketing treadmill so I can continue to benefit from your insights and experience here on Blue Penguin!

    I concur with what you say – it took years for my site WingsToSuccess to go from concept to reality. But once the wheels finally hit the road and I started to publish, progress happened faster than I could have dared hope.

    And, with each subsequent post, it becomes quicker and easier, as well as more enjoyable.

    I’m building the world’s premier online destination for Entrepreneurs and Wantrepreneurs. Find out more and join me here:

    1. Michael Katz Post author

      Glad to hear you’ve had success with a relationship-based approach as well, Rick! Thanks for sharing that.


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