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Are You ETDBW? If Not, It Could Be Costing You Clients

According to LinkedIn, my network consists of roughly 120 million people. In fact, other than six elderly denizens of a village in Uzbekistan, it appears I’m indirectly connected to every person on the planet. Setting aside the absurdity of Xth-degree connections, LinkedIn has become the most valuable social network for business building. But they’re doing their best to reduce their own value and chase away customers. Are you making the same mistake?


Knowing people is good for business, but being part of a group of like-minded individuals is even better. LinkedIn acknowledged that proposition by creating groups in 2004. There are now roughly a zillion groups, comprised of pretty much everyone except those six Uzbeks.

Some LinkedIn groups are terrific. The Solo Consultants Network, which I have the honor of managing, has extremely high engagement and zero promotion.

Unfortunately, most groups bite. They’re spamfests. Virtual billboards flashing an endless parade of promotional announcements that no one is watching. LinkedIn felt they had to respond to the explosion of low-value groups, but didn’t address the issue itself (or simply let the market determine what adds value). Instead, they made their service harder to use. Groups are now difficult to join and frustrating to manage.

My prediction is that LinkedIn’s groups will crash and burn. Users will flock to less cumbersome alternatives, at first just for groups, then for business networking in general.

Here’s the problem in a nutshell: They overestimate their offering’s value to customers and underestimate the importance of being Easy to Do Business With (ETDBW).

ETDBW = Easy to Do Business With

ETDBW can trump virtually everything else.

For instance, you might think the average Josephine chooses which supermarket to shop in based on cleanliness, freshness of produce, selection or price. You’d think wrong. Studies show the #1 driver of choice of supermarkets, by far, is location.

As a consultant, low scores on ETDBW will knock you out of the consideration set regardless of how smart you are or how impressive your results. I personally witnessed a brilliant, well-known consultant lose a six-figure project because he gave the impression that a feudal warlord would be more responsive and cooperative.

Fortunately, you’re not a supermarket locked into a location or (I assume) unduly self-involved. You determine how ETDBW you are. Are you taking LinkedIn-ish steps that make you frustrating to engage, or is partnering with you as easy as stealing candy from a baby.


Challenge yourself. I bet you’re not as ETDBW as you think.

A handful of practices you can adopt:

  • Offer a range of services at widely varied fees.
  • Be easy to reach. (My phone number is at the top of this page.)
  • Respond quickly. (I call back everyone within two hours.)
  • Communicate clearly, directly and professionally.
  • Don’t fight small battles with your clients.
  • Make your information easily accessible.

By the way, if you’re not a 1st connection with me on LinkedIn, please invite me ( In return I’ll invite you to the (suddenly invitation only) Solo Consultants Network.

What are you doing to make yourself easier to do business with?

  1. David Natalizia
    October 14, 2015 at 2:12 pm Reply

    Great perspective. Thanks for the concrete suggestions about how to be easier to work with.

    • David A. Fields
      October 16, 2015 at 2:22 pm Reply

      You’re welcome, David. They’re just the tip of the iceberg, of course. If you ask yourself once each week how you could be ETDBW, undoubtedly you could implement a new practice every time and steadily make your firm more and more attractive to clients.

  2. Dan Janal
    October 15, 2015 at 9:52 am Reply

    I belong to a few closed groups on Facebook and they are fantastic! Lots of good engagement, encouragement and questions answered.

    I wish LinkedIn had that kind of engagement. It seems more to be a place to post articles (on the good side) and spam (on the bad side!). Of course, this might be a limited sample but it wasn’t what I’d call interactive or engaging or a community.

    • David A. Fields
      October 16, 2015 at 2:23 pm Reply

      Good perspective, Dan. As you know, the Solo Consultants Network is spam-free; however, as I’ve looked around LinkedIn groups in general, it appears that most of them add little value. Do you advise relocating the Solo Consultants Network from LI to Facebook, Google or a private forum?

  3. Felix Vermette
    October 15, 2015 at 3:38 pm Reply


    Great ideas! These will be incorporated forthwith (or thirdwith if that is faster…).

    Best Regards,

    Felix Vermette

    • David A. Fields
      October 16, 2015 at 2:27 pm Reply

      Excellent, Felix. I’m sure you’ll agree that hencefifth, we should all use Victor Borge’s “inflationary language”

  4. Anatoli Naoumov
    November 24, 2016 at 9:46 am Reply

    Years ago I have come with an idea that success of failure of business is created along the whole line of contact between the business and the rest of the world. For example, errors in invoicing or forgetful reception may annihilate meticulous work of sales people OR make it lot easier. Clients rightfully do not care what potential is hidden inside the company unless this potential pours value through what I called “business border”. (I coined the phrase, but I have not invested enough energy in mint 🙂 )

    Does this thinking go in the same direction as ETDBW?

    • David A. Fields
      November 24, 2016 at 10:28 am Reply

      The business border is a good idea, Anatoli and it certainly has merit. There’s overlap with ETDBW since “doing business with” implies an interaction between the client and the consultant, and that is your definition of the border. Not all value occurs at the border, of course, or the border comes in many flavors. I think your idea may tie even more closely to the notion of Net Preference: ultimately, a company’s most important mission is to profitably, sustainably, compel potential customers to prefer its offerings to any alternatives.

      • Anatoli Naoumov
        November 25, 2016 at 9:20 am Reply

        I like the “Net Preference” concept. I guess it implies that since perfect choice rarely exists, actual choice is based on perceived balance of pros and cons. Thank you for this perspective.
        Value is not created/destroyed on the border between businesses, company’s actions that cross the border create/destroy value for clients. Only these actions, but all of them..

        • David A. Fields
          November 25, 2016 at 9:35 am

          Business border is a good concept, Anatoli. You should definitely play with it more.

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