Chain Gang

I have a 15-year-old, rust-colored loveseat in my garage.

Please don’t be impressed; it’s not there permanently. The truth is, we are doing our best to find a place to donate it.

Its residency in the garage is the result of a four-step, household chain reaction…

Step 1: A few weeks ago, we upgraded from a queen bed to a king.

Step 2: We moved the queen down to our extra basement bedroom, replacing the functional but uncomfortable futon couch/bed that was there.

Step 3: We moved the futon into the little basement workout room in place of the loveseat that had been there, thereby expanding our guest sleeping capacity.

Step 4: One strong son and visiting nephew later, the loveseat now resides in the garage where it awaits a new home.

Frankly, when we decided to embark on Operation Bed Upgrade, the idea that it would somehow lead to a loveseat in the garage had never entered my mind.

But step by step, one thing led to another, and here we are.

Inbound, relationship marketing works exactly the same way. It’s a chain reaction of events whose ultimate result (more clients) is never known before the fact: it only makes sense when viewed in reverse.

For example, one of my most recent clients came to me on the referral of another client who herself came to me on the recommendation of a colleague who I speak to rarely and have met in person just once in the 20+ years we’ve known each other. Whew. That’s a long walk.

The specifics of each situation are unique, but the chain reaction part is not. It’s always one thing leading to another and another and another until, finally, the “Can you help us?” email happily arrives in your inbox.

It’s a great way to do business since the people who reach out have already identified you as the possible solution to whatever problem they are experiencing. When it comes to prospect discussions, this is pretty much as good as it gets.

But … all of this wonderful stuff only occurs if you commit to doing some “furniture moving” of your own.

In other words, you’ve got to start the chain reaction by continually staying visible and in contact with lots of people. Some suggestions in that regard…

It need not be complicated or sophisticated. (In fact, if it’s too much of either you’ll stop using it.)

But you do need a plan for staying in touch with as many people as possible and for keeping track of who you’ve been in contact with.

A simple Excel spreadsheet is fine. (I’ve been using Clay for several months now and am reasonably happy with it.)

Relationship marketing is like exercise – the benefits evaporate very quickly if you stop doing it.

The problem for many people, though, is that it starts to work, they get busy with clients, and they stop “moving the furniture.”

Then, when things slow down (as they always do) and they need more work, the chain reaction is no longer happening in the background and they are back to zero.

There’s no way to tell ahead of time which of your contacts is going to send somebody your way.

It might be someone you think of as “important.” But it’s just as likely to be “the friend of a sister of the guy you used to work with.”

You don’t know who knows who out in the world, let alone what problems they have that need solving.

So don’t spend too much time trying to triangulate from “new bed” to “loveseat in the garage.” Just know that if you throw enough seeds, some of them turn into flowers.

The vast majority of people you know and interact with will never send anyone your way, let alone hire you. That fact alone keeps many people on the relationship marketing sidelines.

The good news is that you don’t need a lot of people spreading the word on your behalf for all this to work; just a fraction of your contacts is plenty.

And even though this kind of thing is random, it’s not luck. You have the power to turn up the chain reaction volume by continually moving some furniture.

I’d like to make it more complicated than that, but it really isn’t.

Extra Credit:

Summarize today’s newsletter in exactly nine words!

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19 thoughts on “Chain Gang

    1. Michael Katz Post author

      Extra credit to you, Kathie, for a song reference that fits so well! I almost made the song of the week The Chain, which was on that same Fleetwood Mac Rumors album as the song you mentioned!

  1. Laura E. Kelly

    9 word summary:
    Make “one thing leads to another” happen on purpose.

    Boy, that great ChatGPT illustration of your bed/sofa anecdote brings home the reality that many creatives are about to lose their livelihoods. But whatta resource for newsletter writers!

    1. Michael Katz Post author

      The ChatGPT image capability is amazing. At first I tried to describe what I wanted and it was creating garbage. Then I decided to just upload the text of of the newsletter and ask it to create an appropriate image based on that. Amazing, and now it can iterate, so you can keep asking for modifications.


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