Building a Map of Northeast Ohio Influencers
“Do you know someone that can help?”
It’s a question we hear a lot from our clients when they need a new attorney who specializes in patents or a great HR recruiter to find talent in a tough market. They reach out to us for a credible and respected reference. Better than the old Yellow Pages or even Google, tapping a vetted referral network is a trusted avenue to shortcut hours of personal searching and homework.
We’ve connected the dots to build a “map” of top resources in Northeast Ohio and it’s one of the many valuable resources we bring to our clients. We’re visible, connected and engaged with community leaders and influencers. We are well-positioned to help our clients when they are looking to build new relationships, consider alternative resources or explore service providers. Over the years, we have built a map of quality relationships, and of course, worked hard to place ourselves on the map and in the minds of others, when people want to connect the dots to other people.
But The Dots Keep Moving
Companies change and add new services, people switch jobs and an increasingly new generation of community influencers are moving into positions of leadership. Throughout our 60-year existence, even BMF has had a different profile and footprint over the years. So the answers to “Do you know someone that can help?” or “Who’s best at what I need?” have become more fluid.
To stay on top of the changes in organizational leadership in Northeast Ohio, we tasked partners in both our Akron and Cleveland offices to be our “Market Leaders.” In these roles they will collaborate with community leaders, influencers and their next generations to know our firm and our next-gen leaders, and to ensure they are familiar with our competencies and specializations, especially as it relates to recent and relevant regulatory and governmental updates.
These formalized responsibilities complement the groundwork that we have built over the years. As with so many others in our firm, our Market Leaders are well-known in the marketplace and these new roles have been defined with strategic objectives to be succession-focused and more intentional with their efforts. Their new responsibilities don’t change that our 100+ employees are already out in the community connecting people and building relationships, but more ensures a strategic and intentional approach for the firm as a whole.
At the same time, their increased community engagement provides the opportunity to update our own resource map to draw upon as a client resource. Northeast Ohio feels like one big city, but it still maintains the small-town sense where everyone knows everyone. But knowing people and cultivating a relationship with them aren’t the same. In many respects, our relationship-building efforts are seeking to cut the traditional “six degrees of separation” to just two or three levels.
We aim to do more than make a one-time connection. Our goal is to build a mutually beneficial relationship that will stand the test of time. Foundationally, it’s critical that we continue to build upon the same relationship depth that our firm was founded and that I and others in the firm have continued to cultivate for so many years.
“In many ways, my role is to uncover the match. Our clients don’t come to us seeking a list of names, but rather our advice for who would fit their culture or project need most effectively. Tapping into our insight for who’s out there and exactly what they can provide is critical.”
This exposure has provided us with insights we can share with clients seeking to create the same position of market leadership for their companies:
- The way Boomer and Millennial executives approach relationship-building is different. They both spend just as much time on networking, but a Millennial’s approach to work-life integration is not necessarily co-mingled the same as Boomers. When a Millennial goes to a networking event, they’re much clearer about the purpose and the objective they want to achieve.
- The lines that separate Cleveland from Akron has blurred. The isolation between the two business communities is no longer as prevalent as it used to be 20 years ago. While still distinct in their character, both communities have grown and connected and that separation is much less today.
- Networking can be effective as a way for clients to drive sales, but only if you approach it strategically. Tod refers back to the Jim Collins “Good to Great” book that challenges people to truly understand their sweet spots so they ensure networking time is spent only on that. “Every company has three things they must keep in mind: what they are best at, what drives their company’s engine and what are they passionate about. Spend networking time only where those three circles intersect, rather than with people and groups outside that area. And make sure you’re able to articulate clearly how you’re more valuable than your competitor, in a way that potential customers care to hear.”
It’s never been a more critical time for us to effectively fulfill our mission as ‘objective confidants’ to our clients. The time we spend out there learning about companies and different resources for problem-solving makes us critical partners for our clients.
If your business is looking to better connect in the marketplace or is seeking a resource, we encourage you to contact your BMF advisor.
Richard C. Fedorovich?>
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