One question I get a lot is some variation of this👇

How do I find more leads/customers/deals?

Granted, this is a big question. And one with innumerable approaches and answers. For example, I just recently wrote about how I’m using LinkedIn to start conversations with investors. So you can be reassured that we’ll come back to this from time to time in future emails…

Which makes sense, of course. Because finding the person to talk to in the first place is often the hardest part.

But for right now, let’s spend a few minutes focusing on one specific response to this question. And one that scratches that ‘wonky sales psychology’ itch that I can’t seem to shake.

Networks Are Like Magic

One way to think about lead generation is to not think about generating leads.

Huh?

Stick with me for a minute. I think you’re going to like where this goes.

Recall the reliable maxim – “People don’t like to be sold. They want to buy.”

In the same way, leads don’t want to be ‘generated.’ They want to find you. Prospects and customers want to discover you.

And one way to have people discover you and become a lead or a prospect is to leverage the magic of your network. Maybe not magic, exactly. More like randomness. Or serendipity.

Except it’s often not really random. There’s a logic and a science to it. Mathematics, actually.

And this is where I give you a reading assignment. Read this essay/book chapter by Tom Critchlow. I say this with a slight warning… it’s genuinely wonky stuff. Not a breezy, brainless blog post that I’m sending you off to.

But hey, you’re smart and curious and view sales as a calling and a profession. You take this seriously, or you wouldn’t have asked the question in the first place. Right? So this is squarely within your wheelhouse.

And it’s a truly brilliant essay, and you’ll be smarter about sales and marketing after reading it. Honestly, it’s so good that you’ll share this email with your friends… for the exact reason that Critchlow explains in the essay. (How meta is that?!)

TL:DR

Basically, what I’m suggesting (and Critchlow, too) is that one good way to get leads is to invest in your network. Because your network is a lead engine.

It works in part because of social capital. Those in your network refer people to you in order to gain social capital. By referring someone to you, they 1) are doing them a favor, 2) doing you a favor, and 3) looking smart and well-connected because they know about you.

BTW, I’m doing it right now by pointing you to Tom’s essay. (You’re starting to see why I like this essay so much, huh?!)

So part of your lead generation effort needs to be indirect. Which you do by investing in your skills, expertise and experience and then making your network aware of these skills, expertise and experience. (Hey, you’re doing it right now…)

Again, this is only one lead generation strategy. But it’s one that resonates in part because it takes some of the pressure off. It’s not cold calling people or having to strike up a forced conversation with strangers at a trade show. (Alas, you’ll likely still need to do that on occasion…)

So study up on weak ties and dark leads, and then please let me know what you think.