Today is Election Day in the US and an 18 month long (or thereabouts) presidential campaign will finally draw to a close. I take voting seriously and view it as both a right and a responsibility. It is only in the past 50 years or so that true voting rights were extended to the general population. For 150 years, only land-owning males of Euro-American descent who were literate in English were eligible to vote. As a result, the vast majority of citizens have been unable to vote for most of our history. Vestiges of restrictive voting laws linger today, unfortunately. For example, why isn’t Election Day a paid holiday for all workers, full-time, part-time and contract?
In our last episode, I left you with a cliff-hanger and promised to take a look at what is most likely the most important part of your Personal Presidential Campaign. Dear readers, that would be relationships. Pay particular attention to whom you know and who knows you. Business is political and politics is all about relationships. Identify and affiliate with organizations that will bring you into contact with people you need to know. That could mean the chamber of commerce, house of worship, nonprofit organization board, or a fitness center. Figure out where the right people congregate and then evaluate where you will have the best chance of access and acceptance.
Something else you can do: search your VIP’s name and you might discover that he/she will speak at a local conference. Be there if it’s open to the public and within your budget. If you’re able to attend, take notes on the presentation so that you can ask a good question during Q & A. Your intelligent question will pave the way for a post-talk conversation that will set the stage for relationship-building.
Along the way, you must also get a handle on what you can offer the VIPs you want to bring into your camp. Objectively evaluate what it is about you that higher-ups will appreciate. Maybe you have a skill that nonprofit boards covet (beside check-writing ability):
- Are you a silver-tongued salesperson, who might therefore be an adept fundraiser for the VIP’s favorite charity?
- Do you possess the excellent organizational skills that would make you a key player on an event committee?
- Can you build a website or put together an e-newsletter?
Or maybe you know an influential person or two and you can connect your VIP to someone he/she would like to know? Whatever it is that you can do, discern your value-added and work it, even if it’s helping out with crossword puzzles.
Social media can also play a role in your relationship-building strategy. If your VIP has a Twitter feed, definitely sign up to follow and eventually join the tweets and re-tweets. If LinkedIn is your thing, resist the temptation to right away ask your VIP to join your network. Be more subtle and try to find out if you have any connections or groups in common. If so, tap your common connections to obtain some useful background info. Follow group discussions to see if your VIP participates. If you can intelligently add to discussions in the common groups then do so, as your VIP could be following and it could be an opportunity to look good. You can do the same in the general Answer forum.
In closing, please know that I do not advise you to coldly manipulate those people whom you feel will be useful to your ambitions. To the contrary. Relationships must be a two-way street and win-win is the goal. Take the time to build authentic relationships and provide value to others as you campaign to be the President of your professional life.
Thanks for reading. Cast your vote.