Only two types of people matter when it comes to connecting yourself or your business: 1) your ideal prospects and 2) your referring sources.
The trick that turns all business development into success is to know exactly whom you need to connect with in order to maximize your time and income.
This includes anyone who has a need and a budget you can serve. It sounds simple, but actually you may have more requirements than prospects do. We always think that we’re being judged when it comes to connecting and competing for business. In fact, you have a lot of thinking to do before you begin to develop business relationships, or re-start your business development campaign.
You might have several constraints that narrow down who would be your ideal prospect. For example, given your overhead and business expenses you may be able to work only with clients who have a budget of a certain size. Conversely some clients may be too large for you to successfully serve. To manage large accounts, you might need administrative support you currently don’t have, or partners with whom you haven’t yet connected.
There might be geography involved as well. For example, you might not want to travel farther than a 50-mile radius from your location. While it’s fashionable to say no one needs to physically meet with anyone to do business with them: actually meeting may be a condition of your getting the first deal at least. For example, to provide a proposal you might first need to walk a manufacturing floor, see the condition of a property or simply meet the staff you’d be evaluating or interfacing with. Sometimes, to really see if you’re with a real, trustworthy and motivated prospect, you simply need a face-to-face meeting before it makes sense to start a relationship.
So spend a lot of time developing the profiles of your ideal prospects. Exactly what are their needs, ranges of budget, demands on your time and attention, typical deadlines, types of deliverables and even their corporate cultures and communication styles? Decide what clients you serve best, and you can maximize your time and resources in business development. Of course, this works for job hunting and career changes as well.
2. Referring Sources
This includes anyone who knows anyone with a need and a budget you can serve. The surprising thing is most everyone you meet is a potential referring source. That’s because almost everyone knows someone who would be a perfect client for you, if you are able to articulate who is the perfect client for you. You only get referrals when you are able to crisply tell other people about the ideal clients you serve. Then add how you uniquely, competently and with great care serve these people and businesses.
The best suspects for giving you referrals are your current clients, your past clients or employers, and your own professional consultants including your accountant, bookkeeper, attorney, business coach and the like.
Overlook these people at your own peril
The most overlooked referral sources are the service people you patronize. For example, consider the person who cuts your hair. Almost everyone gets a haircut. It’s likely your ideal prospects are getting their haircuts from a professional hairstylist, including yours. Therefore, it’s likely your hairstylist has several ideal prospects for you. They are the people sitting in the same chair that you do, just getting their haircut at a different time or a different day.
Ask yourself: am I talking about the right thing to people who know me?
Here’s the other questions to ask yourself. Does everyone who know me, know exactly the type of client I serve well and that I want more of? Can my referring sources easily tell other people what I do and how I do it? Have I shared some simple to remember – and easy to repeat – success stories? Do I regularly speak in positive terms about my business and my business development goals? Would I be top of mind when my referring sources meet with people – or sit next to them at a holiday dinner?
Take advantage of holiday “down time”
Take one day at least to profile whom you want to do business with. Identify all the details about your ideal prospects. Use adjectives and descriptive phrases that make it easy for you and other people to recognize them. It’s kind of like creating the composite sketch that professional illustrators make for police when they are looking for a suspect and need help from the community to recognize and locate that person.
Once you know exactly what type of person or company you want to meet, make a list of everyone who can help you find these ideal prospects. Then, speak up! Use the gratitude attitude to make it not so “pitchy.”
Even when it’s not Thanksgiving, give thanks
Thank your referring sources, every time you bring up the topic of your business development goals. Here the trick: thank them for helping you – BEFORE they help you. That creates a need to in them to have earned your gratitude. And, what’s a better attitude than gratitude for all the new business you’ll be creating?