Way way back in college, one of my design instructors asked us “Who has more power in a negotiation? The client or the vendor?” Most of us said “the client.” Then the instructor gave us the answer which has stayed with me ever since. “The person with the most power, is the one who has the most options.” Wow!

As if a follow-up to that, my Dad always liked to say “The more options, the better.” (I had a girlfriend who also liked saying that, and now I understand why, but I’m not sure if that’s relevant to this discussion.) ANYWAY…let’s examine how this works in the real world.

In Career Paths
Most people go through life content to work their 9-5 jobs. But when for some reason, they lose it, they are forced to find and take another one based on what limited jobs are available or offered to them (maybe one or two) . But the person who scans the job listings every week has several options open to them on a regular basis. Every week, they have the choice of staying or doing something else – EVERY WEEK. But if you only look for a job AFTER you get laid, off, well, a bunch of other opportunities could have already passed you by. In fact, your dream job might be out there somewhere, but if you’re not CONSTANTLY looking out for it, you could miss it!

In Networking
In business and in careers, it’s all about relationships. A manager bringing his loyal employees with him to his next post or the business owner who has cultivated deep personal ties with his best customers. Well, when you need a new employer or a new client, the person who has built up a huge network of friends and acquaintances to call on has the advantage. If you need to send out an email asking asking people if they know of a position or a prospective client, wouldn’t having 300 people on your list be better than having only 20? Wouldn’t a thousand just rock?! It may be what you know that gets you the job, but who you know can get you to the front of the line. And knowing more people, means getting to the front of more lines. (Why do you think you keep getting these emails from me?)

In Business
They say the best time to look for new (and bigger) clients is when business is good. Here’s why: When business is good, you can go after new business and if the match isn’t good, you can actually AFFORD to turn it down. A company that doesn’t have enough business will have a hard time turning down anything! Which can lead to bad clients, unprofitable projects and low morale. A company that is flushed with work has the option to be choosy. So when you have more clients, that’s when you should be selling more. Not when you have less. No matter how busy you get, always make the time to go after new business.

In Creativity
They say that it takes a thousand shots to get one good photograph. This is true for many things. A designer or entrepreneur who has come up with a hundred or a thousand ideas has more to choose from than the ones that only came up with five or ten. Albert Einstein had hundreds of ideas in order to get that one theory that changed the world. You could even say that brilliance is simply a matter of quantity. So brainstorm, brainstorm and brainstorm some more! Don’t stop at five or ten!

“The more options the better.” You can apply this same principle to many things. Shopping, dining, finding a place to live, selling, even dating. EXCEPT maybe girlfriends and especially NOT spouses.