Stacey grew her book 45% over the last 2 years. She focused on her ideal client and spent her efforts and time exclusively on them – she hung out where they hung out, she spoke at their conferences, she published in their publications. Stacey clarified who she wanted to work with and how she helped them to her personal and professional relationships. The majority of referrals coming her way were the right people who she enjoyed working with, and solving their challenges.
And yet, after 2 years of significant growth, she admitted she was bored with her tactics. She wanted to meet new people in new places, through new contacts. Even the most successful rainmakers try new tactics to grow.
With the start of a new year, this is your chance to incorporate new tactics into your business development habits. Pick one new thing to build into your efforts. Some of my favorites tips developed with clients:
- Claim your potential client. You meet someone and you hit it off. You are speaking the same language. You are enthusiastic about similar ideas and interests. You leave each meeting with this prospect thinking you can’t wait to start working together. But she pauses and delays starting to work together. There are reasons which make sense. Starting with new representation isn’t always smooth and easy. It takes time.
What you can do: Demonstrate your value. LISTEN. Ask hard questions. Stay in touch (without being a stalker.)
When you know someone is an ideal client, keep developing the relationships until the timing is right for her. Tell her she is exactly the kind of person you love working with. Be genuine and direct about why you want to work together.
- Further your relationship with clients and prospects when you don’t play golf. How do you deepen relationships with people outside of meals and drinks? For decades people have played golf to get to know one another resulting in increased trust. A former colleague of mine learned to play golf when she was young because her father told her it would take her far in her career. She has used the sport to her advantage in addition to other tactics!
What you can do: Ask questions to get to know your client or prospect. What are their interests? Which do you share? I live in Colorado and have taken a few clients skiing (even for half a day!) Do you share an interest in a specific sport? Do your kids play the same the sport or music? It is always an easy excuse to reach out.
- Avoid the hassle of the back and forth of planning where to meet clients, prospects, and referral sources. You can spend a lot of wasted time arranging a meeting – when, where, etc.
What you can do. Meet your clients, prospects, and referral sources at the same place for lunch. You may get sick of the menu, but the ease of planning will outweigh that! This is a great tip shared by one of my clients. When you reach out to plan a meal, it makes it easier to suggest a specific place. You get to know the servers and hosts. And more often than not because you suggest this right from the start, people are willing to travel to come see you.
- Avoid overextending yourself. Even without intending to, many of us fear saying no to an invitation. (FOMO?) We think there is going to be that magical contact we’ll meet that will change the course of our careers for the best. Networking meetings, events, professional associations events, fundraisers are all an opportunity to meet new people – for the first time. They are first dates, not the place to propose marriage or working together. There are times we need to say no given our commitments and caseload for the week or month.
What you can do. Join 2 boards or professional organizations. Maybe 3 depending on the time commitment. Go deep within an organization, take on a leadership roll on a board or committee. Your goal is not to go wide where you are spreading yourself thin and not furthering your relationships. Your goal is to get to know people in a more meaningful way. Not pass out as many business cards as possible.
- Make the most out of introductions…even when you’re not sure why the introductions was made. We’ve all been there. People learn about what you do, and want you to meet with some of their contacts. More often than not, these are good introductions. But sometimes they are not. We can spend a lot of time having coffee with people that we will not continue the relationship. When people tell me they spend a lot of time having coffee but their book is not growing, usually it is because they are meeting with the wrong people. That can eat up a lot of your billable time.
What you can do. Consider the source of the introduction. If it comes from an important client or referral source, take the meeting. Ask your initial contact why he thinks you should meet the individuals. If they are unable to answer in a meaningful way, make the meeting a phone call to start. Think about what value you can offer to your audience. To make it worth your time, think about questions you want to ask that will help you. Looking for a new networking group? A professional association? Referrals? Ask how you can help them, and be prepared to answer how they can help you.
Bottom line – do something every day that furthers your relationship with a client, referral source, or prospect. Make it genuine, and what feels comfortable to you. Trust your gut and spend your time wisely. Even if your book is growing steadily, never take your foot off the pedal.