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The Entrepreneur’s Black Book

​Personal contacts are the lifeblood of any business.

When you aren’t exactly sure where you are going and how you might need to get there, they are even more crucial. For an entrepreneur, any and every contact that they make could turn out to be a source of that next great idea, a link to their next client or even a potential employee.

In the pre-internet days of face-to-face business dealings, this black book was limited by geography and industry. If you worked in IT, you wouldn’t go to Marketing events. Cross-pollination of networks and ideas was virtually impossible for all but the most networked of “movers and shakers.”

Now, with the explosion of social media, everyone has to potential to build an influential collection of contacts for their black book, but many people still retain the narrow viewpoint of offline networking.

“There is no point in talking to someone or helping them out because they are not from my industry / country / function.” (delete as appropriate)

I would like to argue that an entrepreneur needs an army of converts to take their message to the market, and, with the concept of “six degrees of separation” being relevant like never before, I would say that any potential (genuine) contact could hold the key to their future.

Does a hugely expanded Black Book make relationships harder to manage? Well, not necessarily. Entrepreneurs will still gravitate to those in their industry and those who have the closest affinity to what they are doing. However, being open to all kinds of contacts simply means that they are not discounting the random opportunities that might arise.

Then, the second benefit of a Black Book comes into play…. The more people you know, the more you can potentially help others achieve their goals.

Social Media is facilitating a reciprocal business environment like never before. A valuable introduction for a connection might take 10 seconds, but it could make a huge difference to their business. If you never make the effort, you will never know. If an entrepreneur dedicates a small percentage of their time to being a “connector” every week, they will reap the benefits along the line. Gratitude is a currency that lives long in the memory, and if they use their Black Book to benefit others, the benefits will be returned to them with interest. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but good things come to those who give.

Moving into the “real world”, the one key to a healthy Black Book is to treat people how you would like to be treated yourself. There might only be a limited number of potential clients in the market, and if you are not careful, before you know it, your past indiscretions can come to bite you on the backside. Not everything always goes to plan, but if you are honest with people in your interactions, you will retain their trust and respect.

Whether it is online, or in the real world, the state of their Black Book can make or break an entrepreneur, or anyone else for that matter. Whenever you are looking for a new job, whenever you need to sell something, or whenever you need some advice, your extended network is king.

How useful is your Black Book?