People are always asking me, What’s the next step? They have a great idea, cause or issue they’re fired up about, but are unsure of what to do next. Well, if you want to start a business, create a new book club or change how your team works together, you can’t do it alone. Any change, or what I call a wave, takes interest from others.
Here are some quick tips for making sure that your plans and ideas are garnering interest from others.
1. Remember “What’s in it for us?”—not just “What’s in it for me?”
People get on board when they can see a bigger “why”—the broader impact in your team, the community or organization. Sharing the financial goal isn’t enough. First off, make sure you know the bigger “why” and then share it often to keep your team on board and motivated.
The Gem started as one of the first juice bars in Dallas, beginning when one of its founders, Leslie Needleman, used healthy eating in her treatment and recovery from breast cancer. Their “why” has always been about being healthy, and as a result, they share more than juice. They offer nutritional counseling, classes and information. Their purpose is based on “what’s in it for us,” not just “what’s in it for me.”
2. Find your idea partners.
In my research on those who start changes, big and small, I learned that the very first sparks of an idea usually begin on the back of a napkin, in a cab or over a glass of wine. Those important discussions can help your idea take shape, and help you to understand how others see it. These early idea partners will also be important in spreading the word.
In writing my new book, I relied on several idea partners and learned where I had blocks and what wasn’t clear. My friend Kristi Erickson came in with a fresh perspective, which helps so much when you have worked on your change for a long time. These same idea partners have been wonderful advocates for me as the book became a reality.
3. Think small and bite-sized.
We are busy people! We are connected to multiple devices and multi-tasking has become an art form. This means you have to get others’ attention quickly.
Don’t aim for everything at once. Many of the Wave Makers mentioned in my book, Make Waves: Be the One to Start Change at Work and in Life, didn’t ask for everything at once. They were incrementalists.
Julie Porter, of Front Porch Marketing, asked her close network over for dinner a few years ago to brainstorm the launch of her new business. She didn’t ask for too much, just for us to come to dinner and share ideas. After a fun night of conversation, we all left thinking, How can we help her get her business started? But she didn’t ask us for that much at first.
4. Go retro and rely on conversations.
We communicate so much through technology that it’s the norm these days. It’s fast, efficient and we have several devices that make it easy to do so.
Yet, when we receive an email that includes 30 other people or see a post asking for ideas or input, we often assume that someone else will respond, and move on. Contrast that with when you receive a call or have a personal conversation with someone asking for your ideas and participation. It’s different. You are much more likely to engage. And, it shows that your participation matters.
5. Get some points on the board.
Quick momentum can help your new idea take off. This is more than just good buzz, so be strategic about the kind of momentum that will help you.
If you watch the ABC hit show Shark Tank, you know that if you want investors, you need some proven sales history and a commitment for future sales. If you have an idea to try new technology at work, involvement and support from an expert or key influencer may be your momentum builder. Know the momentum builder that fits your need and situation, and that will propel you forward to your bigger goal.
(Bonus: I recently went on fellow SUCCESS contributor and Spark & Hustle CEO Tory Johnson’s teleclass to discuss these same steps on how to start change. If you really want to make a difference, give it a listen.)
Make waves. Start the change or calling you can’t stop thinking about and take action today. Yet, remember that waves build through interest from others. You can’t do it alone.
This article was published in May 2014 and has been updated. Photo by @alinabuzunova/Twenty20
Patti Johnson is a career and workplace expert and the CEO of PeopleResults, a change and human resources consulting firm she founded in 2004. Previously, she was a senior executive at Accenture and has been recently featured as an expert in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, NBC, Money Magazine and Working Mother. Patti is also an instructor for SMU Executive Education and a keynote speaker on “Leading Change.” Her first book, Make Waves: Be the One to Start Change at Work & in Life, hit shelves in May 2014. Visit her website at PattiBJohnson.com.