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Over the past few weeks I've written a lot about relevance. By now, you've discerned that I consider it the foundation of any form of interaction with people in your market. To all that I've said, let me add one note of caution.

You can't merely mouth the industry buzzwords, donning your Relevance team jersey from time to time on game day. You have to actually engage in and contribute to the business conversation. Otherwise, you'll be exposed as someone whose investment is an inch deep, unlike everyone else's all-in commitment.

While it's true that, long before we're actually well-informed industry experts, we have to don the clothes and look the part, you can't stop there. 

Begin with this simple approach:

  1. Go to the websites for 2-3 of your best clients. On the landing page or the About page, look for the language the company uses to describe itself. For example, a construction company described itself as a "construction, engineering and technical services" company.
  2. Add the prefix, "problems in" to that descriptor, and Google the string, e.g., "problems in the construction, engineering and technical services industry."
  3. In this example, your results would include a forward-looking PwC publication that features discussions of project finance and -management, cost reduction, and emerging markets (shown by the red arrows I inserted in the image below). Their 16th Annual Global CEO Survey should yield the mother lode of topics. A lawyer who hopes to develop business in the construction business doesn't have to be too sharp or work too hard to come up with relevant, current discussion topics that are worth an executive's time.
  4. Whenever you speak with one of your clients, or anyone else in the construction industry, add "It seems like..." to the front end of one of these problem/challenge descriptions, then ask the expert in front of you to share his or her take on it. "It seems like the PPP/PFI market will play a key role in the years ahead (first red arrow below). Am I looking at this correctly, or way off base?" 

Presto. You're a credible contributor to the industry conversation. Simple, isn't it? Now, sustain it.

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Mike O'Horo

If you'd like to learn how to use this principle to manufacture a network of construction industry executives, take a look at the RainmakerVT course, Making Thought Leadership Pay Off: Expand Your Network from Your Desk.