One aspect of doing business is access: who can you reach and at what level have they surrendered their borders to you? For instance, if one has a website selling quality industrial bags like RJ Diaz, and you come to that site, then I have zero access to you, except that you’ve loaned me your eyeballs for a moment. If, while you’re there, you see RJ has provided you with links to his Twitter account, for instance, so maybe you’ll choose to follow his account there, and that will be another point of access.
If he’s smart and lucky, RJ will earn the right to send you email. This will either go to your only email address, or more likely, to your “place where I subscribe to stuff knowing that others might eventually spam me” account. That’s another layer of access.
RJ doesn’t have access to your phone, nor does he have permission to text you. Yet. Does he need that? Another point to consider.
Earn Your Way In
To me, here’s the current access continuum:
- Eyes on a site.
- Social network connectivity.
- Random/Junk email address.
- Say hi at event level.
- Personal/primary email address.
- Text message level.
- Phone level.
- Take private meeting.
- Stop by the house level.
Obviously, we earn this access. Sometimes, we earn it over time. Other times, we earn it because of a perceived exchange of value. Sometimes, we bypass “earning” it via friends.
One Quick Detour: The Perils of “Bypassing” Instead of Earning
I have a theory that any access that we earn via those bypass methods doesn’t really stick around. For instance, I bypassed earning access to a very successful entrepreneur and I was able to speak with him on a very personal level, but now, I won’t really be able to call back at my whim, because I didn’t fully earn it.
The same is true if we rent an email list or try to muscle our way into a level of access that wasn’t really a mutual experience. If we push for your email address and offer you an iPad, we’re not earning your address, we’re bypassing that earning. Do I think you’ll be more loyal to the interaction because you were trying to win an iPad?
How Much Access Do You Need?
Maybe the first thing to consider before you go about earning access is knowing just how much access you need. Let’s say you are looking to sell a product or service. Depending on what you’re selling would determine how deep access would be. Depending on the level of relationship you intend to have with the company, you’d know a bit more about the access you need.
In my case, people who subscribe to my free newsletter know they’re getting value after the very first issue, and when they do, they give me even more earned access. Do I need that level of access? Not exactly, but I like the intimacy. It works well with the Human Business Works mindset and ethos.
In other cases, like with RJ Diaz above, we might even have to ask just how much access RJ needs. I’d offer that he’d do better with your web eyeballs and maybe access to your less-than-private email. That’d probably be enough, at least for this project.
So, start by knowing what you do or don’t need for access.
How to Earn Access
Be helpful. That’s always my first advice. That’s what I do with my newsletter. I do something helpful. That’s how the blog works. That’s how one might earn more and more access.
Share other people’s stories. For whatever reason, access seems to grow if you do what you can to promote others. The more I tell the stories of others, the more people come to me to want to tell their story. Sometimes, this is useful. Other times, it’s a problem of people trying to bypass access. Either way, it helps me earn access.
Connect two helpful people together. This can be done so very wrong. But done right, connecting two people who are meant to do business with each other is a powerful way to earn access. Just pushing two “good people” together never seems to work. I have people offer that to me all the time, and I never do much with the contact. Never because the other person isn’t amazing but because there’s no immediate need nor any particular glue to keep that relationship going. That said, connecting two really helpful people together often lends itself to great future experiences.
Keep the contact alive. Access is a living thing. If you don’t connect with the person every few months at the least, you run the risk of losing that access. Keep it alive.
Give MUCH more than you take. This is the most important of these rules, and the one people overlook. My inbox is littered with takers. Oddly, I don’t seem to reply to them often. Then, I seem to forget their addresses. Then, I don’t see them around much any more. It’s like a magic trick. Give more than you take. It’s the only right way to do it.
Earn Your Way In
One last point. The people you should earn your way into are the up-and-comers. They need the relationships and so do you. It’s great to shoot for the “known stars” of a space, but it’s usually those people who have many clamoring over them. Instead, give the smart rising stars a shout. They will do more for your life than any “big name” ever will. I know that from my experience with working my way through this world. There are so few “big stars” who can spare the time to add value. The ones who give me my love and relationship value are people exactly like me, the up and comers.
You with me?
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