Konzepte, Kontakte, Kohle (Content, Connections, Currency)

I talked with my sister about my goals for 2011 and that I want to actively develop my network and conciously grow towards certain goals instead of just going wherever the tide takes me. Some examples: I want to have more local/domestic business so that I can be directly involved without the need to travel a lot. I want to develop a nice mix of NGOs and private sector clients with a few government agencies and universities thrown in the mix. I want to strongly develop my new line of business in using Net-Map for executive coaching…

Konzepte, Kontakte, Kohle

My sister, who used to run her own company, said: “You know Eva, what it boils down to is the right mix of Konzepte, Kontakte und Kohle (for the non-German-speakers: content, connections and currency). Each project you do should feed at least two of these needs and in your overall portfolio you want a nice mix of the three. There might be one where the content is exciting and you build great networks but the client doesn’t pay you well. The next one might be well paid and great for your networks but slightly boring when it comes to the content. And finally there might be projects that make sense financially and you care about the content but they don’t do much in terms of connections. In the end, what you want is a balance.”

Connections, content, currency… now what does that mean concretely?  Let’s start by having a closer look at the connections: what projects are great for connections? If you do your first project in a new field it’s a great connection builder, you go from “no connection” to your first bridge into a new field, that’s the biggest step. Or so it seems. Sometimes it is the second and third project in this new field that really move you from being a one hit wonder to being someone who works in this area. However, the difference between working project 7 and project 8 in this new area will most likely be minimal – at least in terms of generating new links. But there is something else about connection which might actually be more pronounced in project 8 than it was in project 1: And that is the depth and quality of the connection instead of just the number of new links. And often one of the reasons for long term collaborations is the comfort, reliability and convenience found in established good connections. There might even be some clients where you feel a deeper sense of connection (as in “soul-mates”), that makes working with them special.

But as my sister said, you want to have at least two of the three. So what about the content? As far as I’m concerned, there are two main ways that content can be great: Either you share the goal of the project and find the content important that way. You want to be the change you want to see in the world. Or you find it stimulating because you learn a lot of new stuff. But you might have different criteria. A lot of people love working on projects where they have a high level of expertise in the content area, for example.

Currency? Again, it’s not just “The more they pay, the better.” Even though, obviously, it is great if some of your clients do pay well… But as an independent business person, stability is at least as important as volume. So having a client who doesn’t pay you extremely well can still make economic sense, if this is a reliable long term engagement which gives you some background of stability while you are engaging with less reliable but higher paying clients as well.

Now (if you are considering your professional focus) look at your business engagements and make a list: Do they hit at least 2 of the 3 Cs? What if they don’t? Well, sometimes a project just delivers one of them, either content or connections or currency, but this one is so strong that it’s ok if the other two are not met. Do you have enough other work with different focus to balance this one out? Is there any way how you can strengthen the underserved needs in this project, by maybe re-negotiating the pay, making the content more meaningful or being more active in pursuing connections? Or is the most reasonable lesson to let go of it and/or be more concious of the three Cs in future engagements?

5 Responses

  1. [[sorry, I had first written this reply offline to Eva directly, which is why it is in German… English next time, promise!]]

    Zu K-K-K (das hiess doch mal für unsere Grossmüttergeneration Kinder-Küche-Kirche, nicht?):
    ja, ich finde, das ist eine gute Gedankenstütze, wenn man sich sein Portfolio ankuckt – und entscheiden muss, was man machen will und was ablehnen. Man könnte ja sagen: jede der 3 Dimensionen hat eine Skala von 1-10. Wenn die Gesamtsumme der 3 nicht mindestens 10 ist, dann lohnt es sich nicht, aber sie sollte idealerweise über 15 sein (oder so was…).
    Ich glaub, ich hatte wirklich schon alle möglichen Kombinationen. Ein paar 3-er (wo auf allen 3 Dimensionen höhere Werte anschlugen), viele 2-er, und kürzlich hab ich auch bewusst ein 1-er gemacht (Konzepte – Kontakte war nicht so relevant, weil ich die Kontakte schon längst etabliert hatte; auf Kohle habe ich vollständig verzichtet – aber es war mein eigenes R&D-Projekt, und als solches extrem spannend!).
    Mit den Kontakten denke ich, es ist so wie Du sagst: es sind nicht nur die neuen, die zählen. Ein Marketinger hat mir mal gesagt: es braucht im Schnitt 8 Kontakte mit einer Person/Instanz, bis ein Auftrag zustande kommt – wie Du sagst, bis Vertrauen, Verständnis, Kommunikation hergestellt sind…
    Dasselbe gilt vielleicht für Konzepte: es lohnt sich, öfter das selbe zu tun, auch wenn es an der Oberfläche etwas langweilig erscheinen mag – aber es findet eine Vertiefung statt, man wird sattelfest, vertraut, man verfeinert, revidiert – und das wird zur Qualität, welche andere attraktiv finden.
    Kohle: man kann sich einen Ruf aufbauen, dass man einen gewissen Ansatz wert ist – und den wiederholen…

    • Hi Marc,
      Thanks a lot and let me translate/summarize for the non-germanophone readers:
      How about a scale of 1-10 in each of the 3 dimensions, if the sum of points isn’t at least 10, don’t do it. Ideally it should be more than 15.

      In Marc’s experience he has done a few 3 dimensional projects, a lot of 2 dimensional and recently a 1 dimensional one – but as a concious choice because it allowed him to work in a new content area, even unpaid and without new contacts.

      Marc quotes a marketing guy he knows who said that you need about 8 contacts with a person to get a project/contract. So it is not just about the new contacts but also developing trust and communication. Also, with regards to concepts, if you work longer in an area it might start seem a bit boring, but it might also mean that you have developed a deep level of knowledge that people trust in.

      This might reflect on the money you earn, as you develop a reputation for being worth your money.

      Thanks Marc for your insightful comments. I would love to hear more about how and if people use similar approaches.

  2. […] the rest here: Konzepte, Kontakte, Kohle (Content, Connections, Currency) « Net … Related Posts:Personal Connections Are The New Currency – Work in Progress … Sitting […]

  3. […] Konzepte, Kontakte, Kohle (Content, Connections, Currency) « Net … Related Posts:Personal Connections Are The New Currency – Work in Progress … Sitting […]

  4. […] three step process. I have called it: Content, Connections, Currency. Read in more detail here: https://netmap.wordpress.com/2011…If a project scores high on at least two of the three, it is worth pursuing. If it doesn't hit […]

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