How Fresh Is Your Influence?

A few posts back I wrote about what I call The Business Development Unifying Theory that described influence as a function of our technical expertise and rapport with the client expressed as I = Te * R. While that unifying equation addresses the establishment of influence it does not expressly address the “freshness” factor of that influence. Over time, if not nurtured, influence with a client will diminish. Often forgotten in the busy world of day-to-day consulting is that influence, once established, has a “Best Used By” date.  Influence isn’t something that is achieved and then always available when you need it.  Without planned and intentional effort staleness seeps in.

It is easier to maintain influence that regain it. In my opinion, depending on the client and the degree of staleness, it may even be more difficult to regain influence than it was to first establish.  The reason for this negative re-starting point is a loss of trust.  After all the hard work to establish ourselves with a client the last thing we want a client asking themselves is, “X worked so hard to understand our operation yet we haven’t heard from them in eighteen months.  I wonder what their motivation was in the first place?”   What’s more is that a client will never tell you this question has arisen for them.  But, if you look close it will be evident in their actions.

It is strategically important and cost effective the keep your influence fresh. The manner of how that freshness is achieved is as important as the freshness itself.  Just as in establishing that initial rapport the key to keeping the influence fresh in sincerity.  Keeping it fresh isn’t a “check the box” exercise.  It is exhibiting a real interest in what’s going on with the client.

We work hard to establish influence with clients.  To keep it we have to remember we aren’t collecting trophies to set on the shelf, we are building and restocking a store of up-to-date supplies that that can relied upon when the time calls for it.  When the time arrives no one wants to go the the influence stockpile and see “Best Used By 2012.”