Published 6/16/2019 in The Maryland Daily Record
For so many of us in professional services, when you reach a certain point in your career there is an inflection point when you evolve beyond being a service provider to becoming a trusted adviser. With this role comes an added level of responsibility to not only be the key to ensuring that each moving part is fulfilled but also to be the high-level thinker of solutions for clients.
In the years since I have felt this shift occur, I have also gained a keen insight about the most valuable resource that I manage in this role — my time.
Time … the most scare resource in my world right now, a challenge shared by so many others whom I hear from about the demands in their lives. One of my superstar employees joked recently, if only we didn’t need to sleep, imagine how much more we could do?
A meaningful shift has occurred in the ratio of time I spend face to face or on the phone with clients compared with the time I spend reading, reviewing, editing and sending emails today. I would venture a guess that I used to spend eight hours a day on the phone or in person with people and no more than one-two hours per day with email. These days, this has flipped and now that I am aware of this, I am determined to shift back in the other direction.
This brought me back to a foundational approach that has served me so well. This method was taught to me by a business development coach several years ago. I think this works universally when evaluating relationships, regardless if this is a potential business partner, referral partner, friend or family member. It goes like this …
Develop a set of criteria that matter to you about the people in your life or those who you decide don’t have a place in your life. Here is an example of my criteria for relationships within my professional community:
Ratings Key – 1s
This may seem like the harshest category, yet it has saved me many times from giving my time away to those who won’t see the value. Imagine Oscar The Grouch.
- How do I feel around them? I can’t stand their energy. Super negative view of most all things. Bring me down and clearly don’t express any interest or desire in moving past their negativity. I don’t want to spend a second of my time with them.
- What do they get from me? – Nothing! I let them go so I can be with others who are a better match for me, and they can find people who are better for them.
Ratings Key – 2s
- How do I feel? I don’t love them. They may have access to resources but aren’t likely to share these. They typically don’t value their own time so are willing to waste my time. These are people who may come to me for resources, which I can share if I am able to. I don’t have any expectations of anything from these types as they tend to spread themselves too thin.
- What do they get from me? Reactive communication and introductions that require no time investment yet may be useful to someone who I can help. These are people to have in my resource library as needed.
Ratings Key – 3s
- How do I feel? I like them. They are good at what they do and work within a set of clients who have similar needs to our clients. They may already have dedicated resources they refer to for clients and we are available as needed beyond what is already in place.
- What do they get from me? Professional content that is value-added, annual in-person meetings to nurture our relationship and make connections when needed. This type of person is worth investing more time with to see if our relationship can grow.
Ratings Key – 4s
- How do I feel? We love their energy, they are true connectors and are able to influence others to know what we do and to be collaborators and partners in our work.
- What do they get from me? This type of person is a genuine relationship where we are equally invested in helping each other to do our work better. We rely on the other as a trusted resource for our clients and network of colleagues. In a professional lifetime, we can hope to have this level of depth with five people, and that is enough to sustain a career. The time invested is fluid and is something that I look forward to because I know how much I enjoy learning from and knowing this person.
—Dorie Fain, founder and CEO of &Wealth