Stop prospecting: Find diamonds in your own backyard

By Sandy Schussel

Sandy Schussel, LLC


Russell Conwell, the founder and first president of Temple University, is best known for his famous inspirational lecture, "Acres of Diamonds."

At the heart of that lecture was a story about Ali Hafed, a farmer who sold his land in order to go hunting for diamonds all over the world — exhausting all of his money and energy, and eventually committing suicide.

In the meantime, the man who bought his farm soon discovered that the land was on what would turn out to be Golcanda, the largest diamond mine in history. Across every acre of the farmland, below each and every inch, there were diamonds.

You can find Conwell’s entire speech online in several different places, and I have used the Hafed story many times before. It tends to come in handy when I’m working with clients who have more than 100 clients of their own (sometimes several hundred), but who are, for some reason, still frantically prospecting everywhere to try and find business. They’re cold calling, networking, advertising, sending out mailings and doing other superfluous activities that might unearth the occasional diamond, but they’re forgetting to first look in their own backyards.

As professionals, the diamonds in our own backyards are the people we know already, particularly our existing clients and the people they can introduce us to. If they are not fully committed to us and are not yet willingly introducing us to the people in their lives, we should start digging here before we wander the globe looking for new sources of business.

These should be your initial steps:

1. Identify your 10 to 20 best clients and rank them.

2. Starting with your number one client, ask yourself these three questions about each:
  • Is there a way I can serve her by connecting her with someone in my network? 

  • Is there another way I can serve him beyond what I’ve done already?
  • 
What else can I do to make her my advocate?
3. As soon as you’ve done the analysis for a client, set an appointment with him in which you are prepared to serve, surprise and delight him.

4. Also, decide for each client how you’re going to bring up the idea of being introduced to someone in her life.

5. Spend time in each appointment learning as much as you can about your clients. As Dale Carnegie, author of "How to Win Friends and Influence People," would say: Be impressed, not impressive.

It takes courage to stop falling into frenetic prospecting and start mining for diamonds, but it will save you invaluable money, energy and time.