April 10, 2012
Know What You Want - guest blog post by Stephanie Vance
If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll wind up somewhere else. Yogi Berra
Yogi Berra cracks me up (as does Yogi Bear, perhaps because he’s smarter than the average bear. For those who didn’t grow up with Yogi Bear, look it up). And it’s true that you MUST know your goal before you get started. You may need to reassess as circumstances change, but you won’t get very far down the road if you don’t have an idea of which road you’re on or should be on. Or let me correct that. You certainly can go very far down the road, but in general it’s not going to get you anywhere near where you want to go. I know this because I get lost a lot.
Tactics 1 through 5 in The Influence Game cover “knowing what you want,” specifically:
· Your Effort is a Cause: Your cause may be getting a new job, gaining a sale or implementing some legislative initiative. Whatever it is, remember that you are promoting a specific result over opposition, competition or potential objections. That’s the very definition of a cause.
· Know the Nature of What You’re Selling: I wrote several blog posts on this already, so all I’ll say is that you’ve got to know whether what you’re selling involves inertia or action, is controversial or easy, is a must-do or may-do decision or is short- or long-term. If you don’t know the answers to these questions, you won’t be able to set a SMART goal (see the next tactic).
· Set a SMART Goal: SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely. In other words, you must know what it is you want, when you want it by, whether you have the internal resources to attain it, whether the external environment makes it possible and what the timeframe is for a decision.
· Know WHY You Want What You Want (Or Why the Other Person Might Want That): “You should do what I say because I said so” works only in parental situations and even there not so much. I can’t even get it to work with my dog. So you’ll have to have a good reason for why you want what you’re asking for. And if that reason relates to what the decision maker may want, you’ll be far more effective.
· Know What You’re Talking About: While it’s totally appropriate to say “I don’t know, but I’ll get back to you,” nothing is more frustrating than having someone try to sell you a product they know absolutely nothing about, right? In many ways your cause is a product and you’ve got to be familiar with its nuances if you’re going to convince others to get on board.
Another baseball player named Babe Ruth knew all this about knowing what he wanted. He’s the one who, when he came up to bat in the 1932 World Series, pointed to a spot in the stands and hit a home run to that spot, which won the game. Sure, there’s some controversy over what he was pointing at and what he intended. The key, though, is that he pointed and the ball went there. You need to do the same.
Stephanie Vance, the Advocacy Guru at Advocacy Associates, is the author of five books on effective advocacy and influence, including The Influence Game. A former Capitol Hill Chief of Staff and lobbyist, she works with a wide range of groups to improve their advocacy efforts. More at www.theinfluencegame.com