Get your priorities straight.

I need to listen to my own advice instead of getting distracted by my ever-burgeoning inbox, neverending social media conversations, and not-so-quick breaks to check Facebook. It’s so darn easy today to veer from our priorities. But that’s what we should focus on first every day—what’s “closest to cash.

That might mean writing a proposal, researching prospects, following up with potential clients, attending networking events, or asking for referrals. The point is to focus on lead gen.

Here’s the problem. When we’re heads-down on client work (or have our heads in social media), we let business development slide. When our project concludes, we have no pipeline. We have no cash.

There’s no excuse today for neglecting lead gen. There’s always time to send one more email, participate in one more conversation on LinkedIn, or make one more referral call.

Examine what you do first every day. If that activity isn’t what’s closest to cash, what is one thing you will do differently? While you’re thinking about your answer, check out my blog posts from this month for inspiration:

How Getting Fired Actually Launched My Referral Business

I didn’t plan to start my referral business so soon. But then I was fired. Yep. Just like that, my manager gave me the news. I had a sense something might be going on, since I’d recently lost a big deal to a competitor. But I didn’t expect to be fired. I left the office, went home, and took my dog for a hike. Sure, I shed a few tears, but there was really nothing I could do to change the situation. 

In hindsight, this was good news. I’d been thinking about starting my own company, and many people had encouraged me. This was in 1996, and the economy was robust. Of course, in the beginning, I felt a little rejected and worried about the sudden loss of income. But as I would soon learn, there’s always a silver lining to getting sacked. (Read “How Getting Fired Actually Launched My Referral Business.”)

[News Flash] You Can’t Automate Relationships

There’s a saying that the future is here. Well, it’s not—not even close. We don’t have a crystal ball, and the future will have stuff that hasn’t even been invented yet. So, how do we prepare our kids for their future careers when we don’t know what jobs will look like, what skills they will need, or what sort of challenges they’ll face that we haven’t even considered? 

Here’s what’s happening: We’re so enamored with technology that we forget: People do business with people, not with bots. That means we must be able to have conversations with people. And therein lies the problem for future workers. You’ve probably heard me say that you can’t automate relationships and that technology only takes us so far. That’s just as true for children as it is for salespeople. (Read “[News Flash] You Can’t Automate Relationships.”)

If Done Right, Your Referral System Won’t Actually Cost a Thing

You’re going to pay me how much for referral business? No thanks! When I refer you, I put my reputation on the line, so I need to trust that you’ll take care of my connection as I would. You won’t pitch, you’ll share best practices, and you’ll follow up. You’ll let me know if this was a good referral for you. You’ll send me a handwritten thank-you note, whether the referral worked out … or not.

Referral makers don’t want your money. A winning referral system is about multiplying trust. Think about it this way. I refer you to someone I know well. They like me and trust me implicitly. They know I won’t waste their time, and they’ll gain insights from anyone I refer.  So, when I refer you, this person’s trust in me gets transferred to you. That’s the multiplier effect of trust. It’s also why you need a referral program. (Read “If Done Right, Your Referral System Won’t Actually Cost a Thing.”)

Stop Killing Yourself, Give Your Brain a Break

Did you know that some cities are projecting red and green lights on sidewalks? Yes, we’ve really come to that. Walk on any sidewalk, anywhere, and everyone is looking down at their phones—even when they’re crossing the street. That’s just plain dangerous. We live in a society ruled by the FOMO (fear of missing out). And this digital dependence is taking a toll on our brains. 

What’s the alternative? In a recent article, Anna Goldfarb discussed the threats of always being available, and the power of going offline and not being reachable. I bet you can do it! (Read “Stop Killing Yourself, Give Your Brain a Break.”)