The most under appreciated tool in your toolkit

As a businesswoman and entrepreneur, I have a simple dream: to have my very own Pepper Potts.

Remember that moment in Iron Man when Gwenyth Paltrow as Pepper Potts tells Robert Downey Jr. as Ironman who each person is, our commonality, and what his goal of speaking with them moments before he meets them at a party? I want that. Everyone deserves a Pepper Potts to help them grow their business.

As professionals doing business, we try to do two things: to effectively qualify customers and partners, and to efficiently connect to build and maintain strong personal relationships.

To do this we create our own libraries of personal and industry context built from our interactions, shared knowledge, and collective industry data. It’s possibly one of the most valuable things that we build as professionals and simultaneously one of the most under appreciated.

You may not even consciously realize that it is a resource that you must cultivate and nurture.

Thus, when I say context, you’re probably wondering what exactly I mean. (You don’t have the context for it yet!)

Context is a word that is central to what we do. It is the foundation of every successful business. It is how we qualify our customers and build and maintain strong personal relationships.

Industry context:

To qualify, we look to industry context. That’s our macro perspective gained by aggregating data from many sources and understanding them in relation to one another.

Some examples include:

  • An overview of the industry landscape: products, services, companies, workplace roles, demographics, psychographics, societal trends
  • Reputation information like company’s track record, service quality (best fit and decision making)
  • Regulation, compliance, and industry standards

We use tools like a directory, a CRM, a market research firm, word of mouth, and conferences and events to try to manage these things.

Personal context:

To connect, we look to personal context, which is gained through human experiences within an industry context. It is the information that drives good business decisions and enables us to find common ground with others.

Some examples include:

  • Knowledge of specific people: the details about your passions, your personality, your values. What your dog’s name is, the fact that we both like to scuba dive, that you donate some of your profits to cancer research.
  • Expertise and individual best practices learned through trial and error, research, or mentors.

We don’t really have any effective tools to cultivate and nurture relationships. We use in-person events or try to make a personal connection on social media but those don’t curate any of the data to put to work for you or allow you to easily use them again later.

I don’t know about you, but I’m struggling to manage an ever increasing amount of relationships as my business grows. I’m worried that if I don’t have a way to manage the context around my professional connections, I’ll miss my biggest opportunities for growth.

That’s why our goal at SD6 is to take the data from the interactions we are already having, and put it to work for us, to give us a sidekick we can count on. Our very own Pepper Potts Our goal is to leverage your own individual library of personal and industry context built on your interactions, shared knowledge with your community, and our collective industry data.

Because you shouldn’t be punished for not remembering every personal detail when you’re intentions are to do so.

So now I need to know –

How do you cultivate and nurture professional relationships if you have thousands of connections on LinkedIn and hundreds of business cards?

How do you remember all of the personal details that maintain solid professional relationships? In your head? Notes in your CRM? I want to know what you’re doing. What tools do you use? What hacks have you come up with?

Give me your insights here.