Branch Out - A Podcast from Connection Builders

Standing Out From The Crowd - Emily Ackerman

November 01, 2021 Connection Builders Episode 59
Branch Out - A Podcast from Connection Builders
Standing Out From The Crowd - Emily Ackerman
Show Notes Transcript

In the world of business, one of the biggest favors that you can do for yourself and your firm is to stand out and differentiate what you do from others. Today we are joined by Emily Ackerman, who takes that idea very seriously and who has leveraged it to attain success over the years. Emily is a business development executive at Carr, Riggs, & Ingram, a top 25 CPA firm, and she shares her expertise and wisdom in this fascinating conversation! Emily talks about being memorable and why focusing her energy on her own strengths has enabled her to build a strong network and develop business opportunities. Emily has a staunch commitment to changing the way people think about business development. 

 Key Points From This Episode:

  • Unpacking Emily's primary thoughts on the meaning of business development.  
  • The types of clients that Emily works with and how to grow a network through referrals.
  • Building real relationships: approaches to a strong foundation with clients.
  • Telling your story and standing out to create a strong brand image and calling card. 
  • Keeping it real, investing the time, and getting to know the people you are working with!
  • Finding hidden connections and how relating on deeper levels can impact your work. 
  • The processes that Emily has used to stand out: owning what made her different in the world of CPAs. 
  • Strategic use of time and why Emily disagrees with the excuses about not having enough of it!
  • Moving on from what you cannot control and focusing on things within your grasp.

Emily Ackerman on LinkedIn
Carr, Riggs & Ingram
Alex Drost LinkedIn
Branch Out Podcast LinkedIn
Connection Builders LinkedIn

Have thoughts or comments? We want to hear from you. [email protected]

[INTRODUCTION]

[00:00:01] ANNOUNCER: Welcome to Branch Out, a Connection Builders podcast. Helping middle-market professionals connect, grow, and excel in their careers. Through a series of conversations with leading professionals, we share stories and insights to take your career to the next level. A successful career begins with meaningful connections. 

[00:00:20] AD: Hey, everyone. Welcome to the Branch Out podcast. I’m your host, Alex Drost. Today, we’re joined by Emily Ackerman, a business development executive with Carr. Riggs & Ingram, a top 25 CPA firm. Emily shares how being memorable and standing out from the crowd has helped her excel in building her network in developing business opportunities.

 I hope you all enjoy.

 [00:00:44] ANNOUNCER: Connect and grow your network. We are on LinkedIn. Search for Connection Builders. 

[INTERVIEW]

[00:00:51] AD: Emily. Welcome to the Branch Out podcast. Excited to have you here today.

[00:00:55] EA: Thanks for having me.

[00:00:56] AD: To our listeners for a minute. Emily and I have had a few conversations prepping for this podcast and talking about what topic could we talk on, where would we discuss. Emily said something that I thought that was really interesting and really powerful. He said that one of her real aspirations is to change what people think about business development and to have a new light and new perspective on that. I’m excited to dig into that today. Emily, maybe just to open it up and hand the mic over to you. If I said to you, what is business development? How would you look at that?

[00:01:24] EA: Oh my goodness! Well, first off, let me count the ways of how people need to look at business development differently. This is kind of like one of those answers on a test when people ask you, “What is business development?” It’s the development of business, particularly new business. It could be for any kind of industry. I happen to work for a CPA firm and I’m trying to bring in new perspective clients and resources for my partners. That could be as simple as a tax return. It could be as simple as an audit and it could be as simple as finding people in the banking space or the attorney world, for my clients to reference for their clients. That’s the core of what I do and business development for any industry, it’s finding resources and new perspective clients for that company.

[00:02:12] AD: What I like about as you say that, the clients are part of it, the revenue generating part, but it’s more than that. It’s more than just generating direct revenue opportunities. It’s generating resources and opportunities in ways to add value for your business in this case. Your specific role within your firm, your roles to generate opportunities and value for your firm, right?

[00:02:33] EA: Absolutely. In the world that I play in, we are not a Dunkin Donuts or a Buffalo Wild Wings, something that people want all the time and they’ve got a really big brand name behind them. In my world, people really don’t feel like switching CPA firms, and people actually would rather talk about any other subject in their life other than their personal finances. It really does take knowing a bunch of people around, [inaudible 00:03:03] as well as the United States. They could be as simple as, -- well, everyone has tax returns, so it could be as simply as knowing your friend across the street, good relatives, a good friend spreading the word. Or it takes people that are involved within the financial sector to be keeping my firm top of mind. It could be attorneys, bankers, wealth advisors, people in the private equity, investment, banking space, payroll, insurance.

Actually, one of my biggest clients I got from someone who owns a Dickies franchise, barbecue restaurant. You really just never know where you’ll get your referrals from, but the people that you do tend to work with the most that touch that financial space, that B2B capacity. It’s about finding the ones that drink the Cool-Aid and want to work with you.

[00:03:53] AD: What I hear from you a lot and you and I have talked about this before as well. A lot of this comes down to building a real relationship with the person, right? It’s not necessarily going and saying, “Well, hey. In your case, you need accounting work done. Let me help you with that.” It’s going to say, “Hey! How are you? I want to get to know you” and maybe accounting work comes out to the side of that. How do you think about that? How do you approach that?

[00:04:14] EA: 100%. I am not the type that would cold call. I am not the type that will just send a bunch of blind emails to people. It’s very relationship driven. In my world, people really don’t switch CPA firms. It really takes a drastic event or real big screw up. Those events look like, unfortunately, a CPA passing away, retiring or moving away. It could be also just even, maybe during COVID, there was a really big screw up. It could be a slew of reasons, but people really do stick with that relationship for life, and it doesn’t really matter what company those people work with, they will work with that person until they say, “I’m out.”

My world really does take shaking a lot of hands and kissing a lot of babies because there’s million CPA firms out there, especially here in Dallas Forth Worth. We’re a top ten market. It really is all about, how can I be that different kind of relationship? How can I stand apart from the clutter, because let’s face it, every firm of our size does the exact same work and we offer the exact same services, but what can make my firm stand apart amongst everyone else? I can say flat out, but I’m a little bit different than most business development people in my role. That is probably because I don’t just sit by my desk awaiting for the phone to ring and I’m not cold calling people because I don’t like being cold called. 

I treat people how I want to be treated. I don’t answer any unknown number on my phone. If you’re real, you’ll leave a voicemail or you’ll text me. If you are real, I’ll call you right back. Don’t worry. But no, I’m very much -- I would rather meet people over coffee. I’d rather take people to lunch and really get to know them, and leave it where they know exactly what I do and where work, I want to get to know them. So if and when they do have a need, or they need a resource, they can call me. I’m not going to shove what I do down people’s throat and say, “Hey! You’re with someone at the big 4, I don’t like that. Come with me. It’s not that simple.”

[00:06:26] ANNOUNCER: This is Branch Out, a Connection Builder’s podcast.

[00:06:33] AD: What I think is really important here and this is the truth of professional services is, it’s a top-of-mind business when it comes to referrals. As you said, at the end of the day, you’re providing, in your case, an audit for example. And whether you do the audit or Grant Thornton does the audit, arguably, the outcome should be roughly the same. They should become to roughly the same conclusion. You can’t necessarily go and say, “Look, we’re going to be this much better. We’ll make sure your books look fat.” And of course, if there’s an issue or something, it might uncover an opportunity. But generally speaking, you’re not going in and saying, “Here’s why we do it better.” It’s being at the right place at the right time, top of mind when some event happen that they say, “Huh! I need a new firm to provide my audit. Oh! I just remembered talking to Emily about this last month. I’m going to give Emily a call.” Right?

[00:07:22] EA: Totally! I also find that the world that we’re in granted I’m not a CPA, but tax and audit, talking accounting, it’s actually very boring. When you really think about it, it’s not the sexiest subject in the world, but people really do love getting rich, and they like to stay rich. Letting people know what we do, it’s all the same stuff. It doesn’t matter if you go to PWC, Grant Thornton. It doesn’t matter if you go to BDO, [inaudible 00:07:51], we all do the same stuff. But it’s really kind of conveying that message and what makes us unique. Again, the services, it’s all the same. But what I’d like to talk about is the history of how long my firm has been NDWF under different names. The longevity of just being a very well-respected name.

My biggest issue right now as my firm, Carr, Riggs & Ingram, we’re the largest CPA firm that no one’s heard off in Dallas. But when I talk about who we were before CRI acquired us, everyone seems to know that name or one of the two names. It’s really conveying the story. When I talk about the history, and you talk about, “Well, you’ve been around since the late ’40s, early ’50s, it’s right after World War II. Think about what was going on in the economy then, a lot of manufacturing. Dallas was getting built up in a big real estate way. I mean, you kind of say, “We’ve been doing this stuff for about 75 years now. I think we know a thing or two.”

The other thing too is kind of talking about where we’re positioned. We’re the 23rd largest firm in the country. Every list is different these days, but you kind of position yourself. I describe as like Goldilocks situation, or we’re not too big, we’re not too small, we’re just right like the porridge. Because you don’t have to ever worry about outgrowing my firm, you could be a startup company, you could be a ten-million-dollar roofing company, you can be a 50-milllion-dollar MSP or you could be a multibillion public company in energy. You will never outgrow my firm. We still have extremely competitive local rates, so you don’t have to worry about cost shopping.

The other thing too is, I feel like we never have to say no if we don’t have someone in Dallas that can service from an expertise standpoint. We’ve got 3,000 people that I work with, that I can definitely give you a yes.

[00:09:46] AD: It’s someone. What I find really fascinating about that is, you, the story that you’re bringing and you kind of went back to, “You need to be unique. You need to have something.” In your story, your narrative that you’re talking through here isn’t about how you do things better. It’s about who you are, the history of the firm, the roots. Nothing is about proving yourself. Everything’s about telling your story.

[00:10:10] EA: Oh! 100%. It’s also just kind of standing out. If you’re just going to talk business the whole time. I mean, you and I talked about this. I treat sales just like dating. I get that thrill of what a first date is like every time I go on a coffee. Some dates, as you know are really great and you really hit off, you got a lot in common. A lot of that is uncovered beyond work. It could be the kind of music you listen to, where you went to college. Did you study abroad? Are you married? Are you single? It can be a slew of things, football teams. But you learn pretty quickly. It could even be as simple as just how the conversation is, if that person’s really going to be a good synergistic partner for you, and perspective client. There have been clients that I have literally said, “I don’t think we’re a fit” immediately just because you can tell off hand if it’s going to be a personality fit. Because my hopes are, whenever I meet you, whether again you’re a referral partner or a new client, then you never have to look for that other relationship again. 

I’m easy to please, but I’m very difficult to impress. Whenever I do meet someone that’s amazing, I am not shy about introducing them to a bunch of people and I always say this, if I can’t bring you in genuinely, the least I can do is get you in front of people you need to know.

[00:11:31] AD: So sales is dating.

[00:11:32] EA: It is.

[00:11:32] AD: Sales is dating in the sense that you said it. I thought this is really, really good way to look at it. It’s a part of -- when you’re in this process in developing a relationship that may potentially lead to opportunity. Again, not just purely revenue generation, but some kind of opportunity somewhere for you in your firm. Part of it is really just getting to know the other person, asking questions, personal life, right? What does that do? In your experience, what does that do by spending time, investing time, getting to know the other person?

[00:11:58] EA: It keep things real. You really get to know a person for who they are beyond what they do at their desk. It really does to me boil down to -- I really don’t think people are going to remember the tax return that they did for them in the year 2021. But they will remember that you called them and wished them a Happy Birthday on their birthday. They will remember if you said, “I’m sorry. You lost again Tom Brady.” They remember those special moments. They remember the funny stories and they remember those memories that really matter and count.

I think in the accounting world in particular, a lot of what we do is seem as a commodity. What we’ll keep people happy and retain clients is those relationships-focus things that matter. It’s not that difficult. It’s asking, “What do you like to do when you’re not working?” after you have that whole, “How can I help you with your accounting?” conversation and just sticking with that. It’s not that difficult. It’s not rocket science, but I also like to think about before the internet, before we could just find people that easily. How do you think other firms like mine build their practice? It’s all through relationships and even doing a good job of the small piece of something to get more work in the long run, because you’re just a genuinely good person. Every single person I work with is smart. You have to be smart to pass that CPA exam. 

I mean, it really does take just being different. Again, not every personality type gets along. I am extremely loud. I am extremely extroverted. I use colorful language sometimes when I’m off the clock. I mean, hobbies and interest might be very different from your typical Dallas girl. I don’t do Pilates or I don’t like clubs and I’m not an acai bowl kind of girl. I like boxing. I like watching sports. I play tennis. I like boats. I like motorcycles. When I do meet that female or that guy that likes the same stuff as me, I get so excited. Because, especially like when it comes to music, that’s a big passion for me. If I meet another person that like the band, Tool, oh my God! It’s like an instant, I get you. You know me.

[00:14:17] ANNOUNCER: This is Branch Out bringing you candid conversations with the leading middle-market professionals/ 

[00:14:25] AD: Let’s talk about that for a minute, because I think that’s actually really fascinating part of relationship development. You’re in the process of going out in your role, you’re getting to know people and many people, their instinct is to want to talk about opportunity, talk about ways that can help you, ways you can -- and I get that. I understand that that’s an important element of the conversation. But let’s just say, instead of talking about that, you say to someone, “What type of music do you like?” Your exact point, and you find that hidden connection that someone where’s there’s something that the two of you can really relate to. All of a sudden, what happens. The conversation turns into, “Oh my gosh! No way. You like that too?” And you start digging into it, and talking about it. 

Then, who cares about everything else, because the way that that other person views you, the memory they have of you. You said, be memorable, stand out. Those are things that someone will look back. It’s not necessarily you’re standing out because of the type of music you like, but you’re standing out because that person has a shared connection with you and you’re able to talk about something that they enjoyed, and you also enjoyed and you found a common interest and a common passion. Right?

[00:15:31] EA: Yeah. And your guard is down more and you can tell like, again, it’s just like dating. At least I had this skill. But you could totally tell when someone was totally nervous and it could be as simple as body language, how they answer the question. I mean, I’m literally saying, “I’m not interviewing you for a job. Like you can calm down.” I think also, what I like to do is, especially when I have like maybe a first impression where it’s on Zoom with someone or I could just tell off hand for my first-time meeting them like, “They seem a little stiff and like wound up. I want to loosen them up.”

One of my favorite examples of that is, there’s a girl that I worked with in Dallas that I met on Zoom during COVID. She’s the most prim and proper person and I just wanted to get her a little bit more casual, like you put on this extremely graceful and elegant persona online. But let’s see the real you. Instead of meeting for that very boring coffee that everyone suggests, I said during COVID, “Why don’t we go on walks. Like do two, three-mile walks around the neighborhood. I’m going to be in workout clothes, you as well. Let’s go out that way.” We actually do business walks, instead of just meeting at coffee shops whenever we get together.

There’s one girl that I love in the attorney world. She’s an estate planning lawyer. It actually was so funny because we also don’t like doing those typical coffee. We like wine dates. But one thing that she suggested we do the last time we got together is go get our nails done for a nail happy hour. If you’re a Dallas girl, like I can’t show you my nails now. They look terrible. But that was so fun for me, one because I needed it done. Two, it’s just different. It’s not a boring, old coffee, it’s not meeting at the office. Nothing’s worse than downtown parking.

[00:17:24] AD: it’s really fascinating about what you’re saying. I think it’s so true. Again, it goes back to when you’re trying to network or be in a business development role or build relationships or possibly uncover opportunities, sales, revenue opportunities of the like. So much of this is just about hanging out with someone else, getting to know them and really looking for ways to stand out, to be memorable and to be an authentic person with the other person you’re connecting with. Right?

[00:17:52] EA: Oh! One million, million percent. That’s really all it is. People think it’s so difficult. I am completely whenever I’m out and about. Take it or leave it, you like it or not, but for the most part, I think -- even if you don’t remember my name or the company I work at, I hope that people think of me in a high regard or in a positive light just because I’m memorable. That’s all the really matters to me in the beginning.

[00:18:18] AD: We’ve hit on this a handful of times. Find a story, stand out, be memorable. Ways to really make sure that you are ultimately top of mind. You said earlier a good question to ask yourself was, “How can be different?” Let me turn that to you and just ask you. As you’ve thought about yourself in building your personal brand, building more relationships and networking and asking yourself how can you be different. What are some thought processes you’ve gone through and kind of answering that for yourself.

[00:18:45] EA: For me, I’m the most competitive person with myself. I am not motivated by money. I’m motivated by glory being number one. I want my name in lights. For me, when I first started, I’m going to just take this job in particular. When I started at this job, I kind of looked at the landscape in Dallas. I noticed to my competitors work and I saw one thing and the one common thread amongst all the other firms that had a business development role is, I’m the only one that does not have a financial background or that’s not an actual CPA.

I took that and I said to myself, they hired me because I am not that personality. Own it. Own the fact that you don’t want me doing your taxes. I’m dyslexic and I am not a CPA, but I’m surrounded by a lot of them that have big brains, that are good at math. You don’t want me doing it. But I know enough knowledge about it from a cliff note level to do that. So how am I different? By being the complete opposite of what it is industry. My firm took a chance on me. This kind of goes throughout my entire business development career, which has been for 10 years. I got my start at CBS Radio. I didn’t have prior radio experience. I’m just a big fan of music and I love sports talk. What I even did with my company now, I did exactly with CBS Radio. I noticed that in my role where I was doing business development, getting different companies on air, a very different sell by the way. I noticed that everyone was calling on what woman 25 to 54 want. While I am a woman who is in that demographic. If everyone else is calling on that stuff, I have so much more competition.

What did I do? I called on what men 35 plus want. What do young dads or people like my dad’s age want to buy. I also thought to myself, I was that 25, 26-year-old person, I didn’t have that much money at the time. I’m thinking to myself, the older dad demographic or that 35 plus guy, they’ve got money. They can spend money on fun stuff like cigars, boats, boots, all the fun stuff. I’ve kind of followed a pattern of doing the opposite of what everyone else does and also being -- instead of being a small fish in a very qualified pond, I am the big fish in a not so big pond. 

It’s more of a strategy approach in how can I be different, and it’s very easy to get sucked up in time doing and being involved in a thousand different groups. It might look like I’m extremely involved in every event and their mother, but I’m much more strategic with my time. That could be as simple as, it is as simple as, if I am not with my coworkers, or family or friends, how am I comfortable spending that free time? A lot of people do things because they’re kind of forced to. I don’t do anything unless it’s something that I want to be a part of. 

For me, at my current job, I find manufacturing as an industry to be fascinating. I love finding out how things are made. It’s like insider trading. It’s very simple, blue-collar accounting. For me, I spend a lot of time in an are of Dallas called Garland, Texas. Why? One, I don’t live there, but I find that town to be ever-changing throughout my entire time here in Dallas. It’s been neat watching it evolve. Two, tons of manufacturing. Three, it’s underserved from an accounting perspective and it’s myself and like other firm that’s involved, compared to other chambers where everyone is there. 

For me, it’s more strategic and it also really does boil down to when it comes to other involvement. I am not doing things just because every other accounting firm is there like FEI, TMA. For me, one thing that I’m passionate about, I have a special needs brother. I am that sibling that can speak to what it’s like having a special needs brother. For me, knowing that I’m going to have to eventually be his caretaker, I’m very involved because I need to know what to do and who to turn to. It tugs at my heartstrings. For me, as an example, I’m not as crazy about recycling. You won’t see me volunteer to be on any green initiative boards. Not that I don’t like it, but I just don’t care as much and I don’t want to dedicate my time. Because when I’m not working or during community service, I want to be doing things that enjoy doing. 

But how do you set yourself apart to be different? I also am not trying to fit into a box and be this stiff, buttoned-up person. I’m not that way. I am professional, but I am authentically me and I treat people how I want to be treated. If you’re not a little bit funny, or like comedy or humor, then you’ve got a problem. I don’t know. I tried being memorable.

[00:24:02]AD: I like it. I mean, being authentically you. I think that it shows very well in you and your personality. I think it’s a very important part of truly being successful at building relationship with other people. It’s being yourself. I want to actually grab onto something you said there. You said you’re really strategic with your time and you’ve been really thoughtful about that. I think that’s really important part I want to dig in to here for the kind of last part of our conversation. You in talking to our listeners for a minute, anyone who spends time doing business developments knows, it takes a tremendous amount of time to build relationships, to truly be successful building relationship.

Again, this all kind of goes back to the beginning. In this industry, this isn’t something that you’re necessarily “selling.” This is something where you’re building relationship to be top of mind, to be at the right place at the right time when the opportunity presents itself. Which means that there can be a very, very long process of putting in time and effort. It may never yield any results in any one area. At the end of the day, it requires time.

[00:25:01] EA: Totally.

[00:25:01] AD: Totally. Being strategic with your time is hyper important to be successful. How do you think about that?

[00:25:08] EA: it could be as simple as, I hate the excuse, “I’m so busy” and I hate the excuse, “I don’t have time.” That’s crazy. That’s ludicrous. For me, one thing that I have to do is, and I had to learn this through just even having my own learning disabilities growing up is, if I wanted to get an A on something, I figured out how much more in advance I needed to start working. Another thing that I’ve done is, when people say, “I just don’t have enough hours in the day.” I work up at 5:00 AM every single day or 4:45. Not because I feel like working on my fitness, which I do. But for me, I get the most work done from about 6:30, 7:00 in the morning until 9:00 in the morning. It’s quiet, I’m undisturbed. I also am the type that, shh, don’t tell my boss.

But for me, I’ll work a lot on Sunday evenings, so that way, I don’t have to deal with as much email cleanup on Mondays. And I am a 5:00 AM to like 8:00 or 9:00 PM back-to-back to back person, Monday through Friday at noon. I say Friday at noon, because Friday, I will have that strategically kind of longer business lunch. I’ll just go to a happy hour. These people that you work with when you’re really genuinely trying to develop that relationship, especially if it -- because it takes two to tango. These people become your friends. It’s not like a torturous experience. I literally look at my calendar and if it’s not a new person I’m meeting, it’s people that I really call my friends. People that I enjoy hanging out with when I’m not on the clock. People that I actually would see on the weekend. 

I hope more people saw the silver lining that came from COVID. A video conferencing. While people hate -- a lot of people I know in my role say, “I hate Zoom. You’ll never see me doing a virtual event again.” One, that’s short-sided and stupid. But two, if you are feeling like I don’t have time. That’s where video conferencing comes in handy. For me, I joke around with people where I say, “I hate driving to Fort Worth. I live in Dallas.” I’m not lying when I say that, it’s a big-time sucker. Instead of me driving 45 minutes to an hour to meet a banker for coffee, I’m actually saying now, “Why don’t we hop on Zoom or Microsoft Teams.” Instead of doing the two-hour commute back and forth. I could do two to three meeting very efficiently.

For me also, with being strategic for time, it’s also kind of connecting the dots with who makes sense business wise. For me, again, we’re a top 25 firm. We’re not the big four and we’re also not a tiny, tiny little guy here. For me, I’m also kind of finding those Goldilocks firms and groups to work with. For example, when I think of even just banks to work with. I like working with the ones that are very middle market focused and kind of have the same story that I have. I’m not bashing the big banks like Wells Fargo, Bank of America or Chase, but they’re like the Walmart of banks.

[00:28:26] AD: Different clients, different areas. Yeah. You’re finding what fits for you.

[00:28:30] EA: Totally, but at the same time, this is where I’m different than other people maybe in my role. I still need to meet with them because you just never know if you’re going to hit it off with that person you meet with. That person can switch banks. Also, you just never know if they have a need, because people again, they don’t want to get audited. They’re told by a banker to get audited. I meet with everyone because you never know what a conversation will lead to. But when it comes to how I go about my time, maybe I won’t meet with them necessarily if they live in Forth Worth from a first impression call In-person, I just might not. Or maybe if it’s someone that does a service that my firms offer, yeah, I might be more inclined to do a video call. There’s nothing wrong with it.

[00:29:17] AD: You’re saying, being very thoughtful in what meetings you’re having, are you doing virtual versus in-person, who are you meeting with, why are you meeting with them. Asking yourself what’s kind of the purpose you’re going into this meeting to make sure that you know that you are investing the right amount of time because you hit it right, that your kind of in some level, you have to meet with everyone. It’s not truly every single person, but at some level, it is to be really successful in building relationships and network it. Many times, it does require you to meet with a lot of people again and again and again. You’re just being thoughtful about who you’re spending time with, why you’re spending time with them and what format you’re spending time with.

[00:29:56] EA: Yes. Another really good piece of advice that I would say to anyone in my role or any kind of role is, you can really only control what you can control and to not stress out about what is out of your control. I cannot control a global pandemic. I cannot control raise riots a mile and a half up the street. I cannot control the weather and the fact that I didn’t have power in February. But I can control my mindset, my activity and how I spend my time.

[00:30:26] AD: That’s what matters, is you only spend and invest time and emotional energy into those things that you truly have control over, right?

[00:30:35] EA: Totally.

[00:30:36] AD: This has been an excellent conversation. Let me give a quick recap for our listeners. We talked about this idea that business development is really about looking for opportunities to add value, not just generate revenue, but add value, create some kind of opportunity for yourself, for your firm, for everyone involved. You said to really be successful at your role and what you’ve done. It really comes down to how can you be different, what makes you stand out, what makes you unique. Part of that is finding a story, and finding a way to really share a narrative that tells not what you and how you do it better necessarily, but really, what makes you unique, what makes you stand out, what makes you memorable, right? 

You also talked about sales is dating. Sales is you’re going out. You’re building a relationship and you want to get to know people in a very personal level. Because again, when you uncover those personal levels and the example we used was a shared interest in music, or in a certain band and a certain group, it does bring out an ability to ultimately be memorable, and to create those memories, to create that opportunity to for someone to think about you and to have a good impression and good memory of you. What that all leads to is, really, you said this when we started talking about your time, and how to be strategic with time. This comes back to; you will build genuine friendships in this business if you approach it that way. If you truly say, “Hey! I just want to go out and meet people and get to know them. I’m genuinely interested.” You will build friendships and the best way to do that is to be authentically yourself and to make time for people, spend time with people.

But at the end, we got into the need to be strategic with your time. Just understanding that as much as it’s going to require that time, you need to be thoughtful about what you’re doing. Don’t just go have an intro coffee meeting that’s 45 minutes away just because someone asked you to be thoughtful. Does it make sense for the two of you to spend the time and is this the right manner which to do it? Because as you go on continue to build your network and build your relationships, you will continually have more and more demands in your time.

The last comment that you put and I think it’s just so spot on. You have to understand that above all, you can only control what you can control. When you’re trying to manage time, when you’re trying to manage relationships and you’re trying to be successful in your role, all of it comes back to just, don’t waste time and energy and things you can’t control. Spend all of your time and energy on those things that are in your control.

[00:33:01] EA: Oh yeah. Wrapping it up to how it’s just like dating. I cannot make someone be my boyfriend, and if someone’s not responded to you, I can’t control that. You just move on.

[00:33:11] AD: Yeah. So, so spot on. I had a call to action for our listeners this week. In the next seven days, to our listeners, find 30 minutes of time, sit down, and just reflect on what are the things that maybe you’re spending time on that you can’t control. Where is there’s something in your life, some challenge somewhere maybe you feel frustration, or something you wish could get done faster that maybe isn’t going fast enough, something that’s not meeting your standard, your expectations, something you wish you could have now. Those are the things that we tend to find ourselves hooked up on and have angst around. 

Typically, I say slow down and reflect on this, because when you do that, you start to realize, “Where have I been spending my thoughts?” And ask yourself, “Is that something you can control or not?” If you can’t control it -- I know it’s easier said than done, but do your best not to worry about it. Don’t spend time and energy on it. Rather, focus your time and energy on the components, and the aspects of the challenges that you can spend time. Because if you do that, you will ultimately overcome those challenges much faster.

[00:34:10] EA: Amen.

[00:34:11] AD: Emily, to our listeners, how can they get in touch with you?

[00:34:14] EA: You can get in touch with me over my LinkedIn. Just search my name, Emily Ackerman, Carr, Riggs & Ingram. I will certainly pop up. My email is also on my LinkedIn, but I can read it out loud to you. It’s [email protected]. Again, you can find that on my LinkedIn. I make it very public. Find me on LinkedIn, let’s connect.

[00:34:42] AD: Awesome. We’ll make sure that you are linked in the show notes below. Listeners, make sure to reach out. Emily, thanks for being on the Branch Out podcast today. I enjoyed having you and hope to talk to you again soon.

[00:34:51] EA: Thanks Alex.

[END OF INTERVIEW]

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