“You just have to be opportunistic, and try to figure out what creates value... Where the bottom is, what creates incremental value, and in what combinations.”~ John Malone. Did you know that bloodhounds are the animal kingdoms best detectives? They have a sense of smell that is 40 times more sensitive than humans. They take in scent information and are absolutely relentless until they find the source of that scent. They are so accurate in their ability to track people and things with their superior snouts that their findings are admissible in a court of law.

What if you and I were like bloodhounds in a pursuit of creative opportunities?
The other day at a Redwood Sisterhood breakfast we all practiced being bloodhounds. Sometimes it’s hard to do this yourself, so lesson number one is to have this discussion with a few people who are outside your own industry. We asked people to share what they do; for whom they do it; and how they go about finding those customers now. Then people just started spit balling some crazy possibilities. One lady was looking for ways to get in front of a lot of cars because she does ‘oil change house calls’. It was recommended that she partner with detailers in the area and throw in her service with theirs, or talks to salons and has people get their oil changes while they are getting a hair cut or color. Another was selling wickless candles and was offered the suggestion to go into nursing homes where the smells would be cheerful without being dangerous or harmful. One person adapts surgical tools for newborns and preemies; why not also sell to veterinarian surgeons?

Your industry or sales method can become a box for you if are not careful. Because the oil change lady was thinking ‘house calls’, she overlooked that there are places where cars are sitting in trustworthy parking lots all day long. Or, just because you do 'house party sales' doesn't mean you need to be limited to selling that way. One jewelry sales person I know gave up selling her 'home sale product' at home parties in favor of getting booths at cheer competitions because she knew that thousands of moms and daughters would be walking by her table for a minimum of eight hours nearly every weekend. Because the medical device sales person was thinking of his product use as being for humans, he overlooked those small animals that need similar surgeries could also benefit from his lifesaving technology. It takes someone outside your field or industry to see outside the box.

Here are two internet exercises for you. First, search the words that you use to describe your service or product. Notice which websites pop up and what language that they use to describe this service. What is the overall ‘feel’ of this site? What can you learn about how they are trying to sell this product or service? Compare it to your own language.

Next, search the words that you use to describe your ideal target audience. What organizations are also targeting this audience, but not directly selling what you do? How are they appealing to this audience? Is it more or less persuasive than you do? Is there a service or product offering that does not compete at all with you, but compliments what you do? (Like the oil change and car detailing example) Look for potential partnership opportunities here.

Bloodhounds take their scent information to the end of the trail. They don’t stop until the job is done. Where can your creative nose for opportunities take you?

P.S. The Nose: sniffing opportunities is one of the Leadership Anatomy 101 body parts. We’ll be working 8 body parts in the Leadership Anatomy Woman’s Retreat: The Body of Skills you Need to Bring your Dream to Life; November 17-21, 2010 in the Sonoma Valley of California. For more information Click http://bit.ly/IY8Cp.

Author's Bio: 

Patty Sadallah has 29 years experience as an organization development consultant and executive coach. She is a Dream Partner Catalyst and coaches and consults nonprofits and women owned small business owners around issues of focus and planning, moving them toward her dreams. Find out more about her coaching and consulting at http://www.PattySadallah.com/sq.

She is also the President/Founder of the Redwood Sisterhood, an international women's support community that offers personal and professional development learning opportunities, community bartering through time banking and fun networking events. Here, she brings together the talents and the needs of women and allows these connections to strengthen and uplift the membership. Learn more at (http://www.RedwoodSisterhood.com)

Additional Resources covering Women in Business can be found at:

Website Directory for Women in Business
Articles on Women in Business
Products for Women in Business
Discussion Board
Patty Sadallah, the Official Guide to Women in Business