BREAKING THE NIMBY LAW OF ATTRACTION

 

NIMBY law of attraction motivates citizens living within the community-at-large to mobilize against a corporation for the purposes of delaying, disrupting and defeating high-profile, multi-million dollar land use projects.

This phenomena is infamously known as NIMBY (Not-In-My-Back-Yard), where vocal opposition successfully attack multi-national, multi-billion dollar corporations to protect the status quo from new sustainable development.

NIMBY uprisings are no stranger to the real estate and land development community.  Unfortunately, it happens more often than many realize, and the staggering evidence is hiding in plain sight:

Every year, thousands of projects are ensnared in the web of community conflict over controversial projects that are characterized in the media as David vs. Goliath.

Every year, thousands of part-time elected officials side with angry residents, to vote against legal and sustainable land use projects – especially during election years.

Every year, our economy loses billions of dollars in investment capital, economic growth and jobs to angry residents who defeat sustainable projects with no budget, no lawyers, no office space, and no PR consultants (this is changing, however, due to DC interest groups).

3 Signs of NIMBY Law of Attraction

One, if not all three of these signs, indicates a NIMBY Law of Attraction has latched onto your project:

Public hearings that turn into Jerry Springer episodes is the first sign.  Too often, applicants become deer in the headlights when they’re unexpectedly ambushed by local residents resulting in project delays and negative publicity that emboldens the opposition, while antagonizing the elected body.

Patrick Slevin

Sign number two is when the mayor or public official asks the applicant to host a town hall meeting to educate the public.  This request usually stems from mounting pressure elected officials are feeling from a few dozen calls and emails, or when city hall is overrun by angry neighbors. This is an indication that the elected body is lacking social confidence in corporate developers and their application.  When this occurs, the opposition has secured the political and strategic high grounds, resulting in 9 out of 10 town hall meetings turning into media spectacles.

The third sign that your project is experiencing a NIMBY Law of Attraction is when elected officials privately tell you that they support the project, but they’re unable to support it publicly.  At least not until the political environment is much more conducive to risking their political capital.  In most cases, the political environment only gets worse until the project is withdrawn or voted down.

Breaking the NIMBY Law of Attraction

Breaking the NIMBY Law of Attraction begins with understanding that corporate developers who ignore, overlook or underestimate the community-at-large, the same community that grants the license to operate, is essentially increasing the risk of NIMBY opposition.

Put another way, every community has a NIMBY sleeper cell potential of residents and activists who are ready to mobilize opposition to any project. When a corporate applicant fails to implement a stakeholder assessment and community engagement element to their strategy, they’re essentially forfeiting the high ground, emboldening lone individuals (or DC-centric special interests) to mobilize, frame and drive the impending crisis.

No one wants to see their sustainable project put in the crosshairs of a NIMBY campaign.  Granted, not every project is opposed, but in reality, the odds are stacked against corporations attempting to secure land use and zoning changes for high profile, high stakes projects.

The NIMBY Law of Attraction is an equal opportunity risk factor.  Meaning, industries and projects spanning infill, mixed use, energy, residential, retail, industrial and commercial suffer the same consequences when the community-at-large is ignored or worst yet, alienated.

Corporate leaders and their representatives at the local level, should understand that the risks of ignoring the community-at-large is equivalent to rolling the dice on millions of dollars of investments, shareholder value and future market share.

By the time a sustainable project sees the signs of NIMBY Law Attraction, then it has become a costly crisis that has put the applicant on the defensive.

THE GOOD NEWS

The good news is that 80 percent of those projects that were delayed, disrupted or defeated by angry opponents could have had a more successful outcome had corporate developers taken proactive community outreach steps to reduce the risks of attracting community opposition.

The bottom line is corporate developers and their representatives have more control over the fate of their sustainable projects.  It’s a matter of choosing low risk and low investment of stakeholder engagement, or rolling the dice, hoping the NIMBY Law of Attraction will somehow not target your project.

The latter has been the popular business model, which has always played into the hands of those who are at the ready to attack city hall with their smartphones and Facebook pages.

The irony is corporate developers ask communities to accept change, but they’re not willing to change their business models in order to locate and educate the very same community influencers who are asked to support their multi-million dollar projects.

Those moments of decisions are when the NIMBY Law of Attraction is determined.

Will you generate the next NIMBY Law of Attraction for your project?

###

Patrick Slevin is one of few national speakers and consultants considered a “NIMBY Expert”.  Mr. Slevin is a former Florida mayor, who for three decades has spoken, consulted, and written about mitigating the risks associated with status quo opposition.  Mr. Slevin’s entertaining presentations empower corporate executives on “how to” win political and community support for controversial projects. 

Learn more about Patrick and SL7 Consulting at www.PatrickSlevin.com.  If you’re interested in Patrick as your speaker or consultant, please email him for more information and to set up a call:  P.SL7@patrickslevin.com

JAVA RELATIONS: Perk Up Your Law of Attraction

THE ART OF THE COFFEE MEETING REQUIRES A SPECIAL SET OF BRUSHES WHEN IT COMES TO CREATING NEW BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT AND NETWORKING OPPORTUNITIES. HOW YOU APPROACH THE MEETING AND WHAT YOU EXPECT TO TAKE AWAY FROM IT, WILL DETERMINE THE GRAVITY OF YOUR OWN LAW OF ATTRACTION. I PERK UP MY COFFEE MEETINGS WITH THE BEST PRACTICES I CALL J.A.V.A. (JOIN, ATTRACTION, VENUE AND AUTHENTIC). THEY ARE MY BRUSHES FOR SUCCESSFULLY EXPANDING MY NETWORK OF CONTACTS, FRIENDS AND OPPORTUNITIES FOR A REWARDING JOURNEY IN LIFE.

Coffee 3

COFFEE IN HAND

Last week, I got an early morning call on my cell from an out-of-state number I didn’t recognize. It was a corporate executive asking me, point blank, if I was available to help with a multi-million dollar project that was in trouble.

I recalled that we had met over coffee a few years ago when I traveled to his city to meet with a client. I asked him with such a project, he surely had an agency of record and an A-team of consultants, so why was he interested in retaining my services from Tallahassee? Note: Half of my clients and their projects are outside of Florida, but I wanted to know what cued this call.

He explained that he had a special dinner the night before with key project leaders and partners. My name was unexpectedly brought up by an ally who encouraged this executive to engage my special grassroots public relations services.

 

Up to that point, neither one knew the other had known me, so it was an affirmation. The ally’s unexpected recommendation, coupled with our coffee meeting, created enough efficacy for the executive to reach out beyond his cadre of consultants.

After the call ended, I got a fresh cup of coffee and reviewed my notes. As I sipped on some java, it occurred to me that I wouldn’t be engaging this project, if it wasn’t for coffee meetings!!

As I thought more about it, many of my business referrals and projects originated from ice-breaker coffee meetings and calls. The person who recommended me to the executive, I had met over coffee five months earlier.

This got me thinking about the art of the coffee meeting and I jotted down some best practices. I then had some fun and encapsulated them in my J.A.V.A. (Join, Attraction, Venue, Authentic) approach for successful coffee relations and its impact on the Law of Attraction.

GET SOME J.A.V.A.

JOIN: An invitation for a coffee meeting has a universal message to friends and strangers alike: It’s an informal, low expectation conversation that can be achieved in less than 30 minutes. In the context of meeting a new business contact, the invitation can be accomplished with an initial email.

In the email subject line, I put – Coffee Meeting Request.

My coffee meetings have been done around the nation. Whenever I have a business trip to say NYC or DC, I try to block some time to have coffee with people I haven’t seen in a while or new contacts I would like to meet.

In the email, I often lead with mentioning a mutual friend, which is always ideal. If we don’t have a shared network, I simply say, I’m visiting in your neck of the woods and would like to buy you cup of coffee and spend 20 minutes breaking bread…no strings attached.

No strings attached is very important. See Authentic.

The purpose of the coffee meeting is not to sell or pitch the person you’re inviting. Moreover, expecting an offer of business over a simple cup of coffee is self-serving and undermines the purpose of your coffee relations.

The goal of your inviting him/her is to put faces with names and establish potential relationships moving forward. In this digital age, a firm handshake and eye contact still stands out along with a rewarding conversation.

This is where Law of Attraction comes in.

Law of Attraction

ATTRACTION: The Law of Attraction is the latest definition of an age old and deeper philosophy that attempts to explain how we as a society are interconnected. Synchronicity, serendipity and luck play into this equation as well. The great majority of successful executives are positive thinkers; projecting positive thoughts and affirmations into the universe to create whatever edge they are seeking for themselves.

It’s very possible that your timely email invite may be playing a hidden role in this law of attraction.

Still, you need to proactively answer the question “why” this person should take 20 minutes out of her busy schedule to meet with you.

In my case, I simply state, “In this new economy it’s not who you know, but who knows you…you never know how we may be able to help each other in the future…it can only happen if we shake hands and share a coffee for 15-20 minutes.”

I follow that by briefly, very briefly, saying what I do and if they want more info they can click on a hyperlink to my LINKED IN profile.

Nearly nine out of 10 coffee meeting invites are favorably received and it becomes a matter of day and time, as well as the location.

VENUE: Coffee meetings are often in the windows of 930am to 11am and 2pm to 3pm. When, is often determined by, where. Typically, coffee meetings are located at a nearby coffee joint that’s easily assessable and convenient. Sometimes, the coffee meeting is in the office of your invitee or the conference room. Other times, the coffee meeting (lunches too), are “off the reservation”. Meaning, far enough away from the office where there won’t be any interruptions and/or the discussion can be unguarded and candid.

If the coffee meeting is outside the office, then be sure to arrive at least five to 10 minutes before to secure the best table for your conversation. Don’t be surprised if your guest is a few minutes late.

Authentic

AUTHENTIC: Most business development coffee meetings go nowhere and fail, which explains why some professionals don’t do them. If your motivation is to simply try to pitch or close a sale, then you’re wasting your time as well as the person you’ve invited.

I learned a long time ago, when I was a 27 year old mayor of a Tampa Bay city, that everyone has a unique story filled with life’s lessons. Moreover, I’ve also learned that if I meet someone for more than just a few minutes, that meeting has some relevance on our mutual journeys.

Therefore, I genuinely want to learn more about the person I’m meeting with regardless of who initiated the coffee meeting – me or them. You can find common areas of interest in 20 minutes and develop a rapport that plants the seeds for future follow ups and meetings. On many occasions, the 20 minute coffee meeting would go to 45 to 60 minutes.

Of course, there’s an exchange of our professional roles and goals, but only after a broader context of initial trust and respect have been established. If it doesn’t happen in 10 minutes or less, then both parties will be thankful they agreed to a short coffee meeting.

If you come to the meeting with a sincere desire to forge relations, then your coffee meeting should be mutually productive.

For example, I’m always curious to know why my guest chose his career path and what he hopes to accomplish. How does he view public relations in furthering his company’s goals and whether he sees his consultants as vendors or partners? I’m always asked about my experience as a Generation X mayor and how that experience underwrites my stakeholder engagement skills to this day.

Occasionally, I will get a referral or at least an offer to be introduced to another person who may be interested in my consulting services.

CONCLUSION:

It’s exciting to meet new people who are driven, successful and understand the degrees of separation gets smaller with the more contacts you make.

When I met with a president of a subsidiary of one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies, over coffee, I asked him what was his primary duty? He said, “I’m a salesman, promoting our company, our products and our employees…I can only accomplish that by meeting with people and exchanging information and building relationships.”

I learned from that coffee meeting that despite our titles, we are all selling ourselves to some degree. And we cannot do it alone or with a static network of contacts.

Coffee meetings have proven to be a rewarding forum for building and maintaining mutually beneficial relationships. If you approach your future coffee meetings with my J.A.V.A. best practices as a guide, then you will not only expand your network of contacts, but more importantly, enrich your life with dynamic people who share your drive to find satisfaction in life.

Don’t be surprised to receive a new business call out of the blue. Odds are you will be holding a cup coffee when it happens.

May J.A.V.A always perk up your new business coffee meetings.

Patrick Slevin is a writer, blogger, OCR racer and a PR pro who heads SL7 Communications, an integrated public relations consulting firm. Over the last two-decades, Patrick has successfully engaged stakeholders as a Florida mayor, Fortune 500 corporate manager, national association regional director and international agency executive. His unique and diversified experience in political, corporate, government and agency communications offers clients a greater degree of efficacy in strategic counsel and campaign performance.  He has developed and executed strategies, corporate campaigns and grassroots operations advancing the bottom line interests of clients in markets across the United States.

Patrick can be reached for a confidential inquiry at 850.597.0423 or email pslevin68@gmail.com.