I was recently hiking and was surprised at how many people I passed on the trail that didn’t say “Good morning” even when I greeted them. This got me thinking about how often we’re not present in the moment–at home and at work. As an entrepreneur, the value of being present, engaged and attentive when you deal with others can be what separates you from the crowd. I understand the feeling of not wanting to always be “on,” because I’m an introvert too. (Hard to believe, but true!) But even as an introvert, you can find a way to be present, engaged and attentive. And you can extract value from your social interactions that will benefit your business going forward.

Be Present Where You Are

Not saying good morning is harmless enough (if a bit rude) in a recreational setting. But as an entrepreneur, you’re always in a professional setting. You never know where your next client is coming from. So you have to be engaged whenever something is even remotely related to your business. Don’t miss an opportunity to make a connection because you’re on your phone checking Facebook. You never get a second chance to make a first impression. And the truth is that a moment of social laziness can negatively impact your business.

General Engagement Helps You Focus

Engagement with your social and professional surroundings in general helps you focus on what really matters—your business. None of our companies exist in a vacuum. When you’re plugged into your community, your awareness of the landscape of opportunities available to you soars. It’s almost like info-sponging but using the world rather than a magazine. Make connections no one else has, get inspired to new products or marketing strategies and see the possibility of making collaborations where none were before.

With all the pressure we have to get things done, only focusing on the business you have now is tempting. But if you’re looking to grow, you’re not doing your best if you don’t engage with the world around you.

Pay Attention to Opportunity

One of the first truisms of life is, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” I’ve talked a lot about expertise (or “what you know”) and the indispensable value it brings to your business. But at the end of the day, there is competition. You may need other advantages to get a leg up. Pay attention, and you’ll see what others miss. I’m not saying to obsess on building relationships or growing your business all the time. But recognize that every encounter has the potential to blossom into a business relationship. You don’t want to close yourself off from that.

Get off your duff, and be present, engaged and pay attention!

Sean

image credit: Bigstock/Jakub Jirsak

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