Articulate your messages clearly.There is tremendous power in word choice. Choose words that paint the picture of successful outcomes from doing business with you. Shelve the mission statement and write a clear positioning statement. What’s your brand promise? Let’s hear your elevator pitch.
- Choose your networking groups. This is a necessity. Unless you get out in the field and start shaking hands, getting to know key players in the market, you will remain obscure. Join chambers, BNI, free open networking groups (these are on the rise), private groups, trade associations, clubs, boards, churches, community centers… the list is long. There is no excuse to be a hermit. Online networking alone probably won’t work. There is no substitute for human contact and warm relationships.
- Invest time on LinkedIn. This is the place where serious business people network online. You need to build your profile to be 100% complete. Then you have to participate in the amazing discussions and content sharing. Here’s a link to a comprehensive LinkedIn PowerPoint Presentation. Are you LinkedIn to your market? Engage in Online Business Networking. What about social media like Facebook, Twitter, blogs? The three best answers are yes, yes, yes. Budget time as best you can.
- Deploy email marketing. This doesn’t mean e-blasting promotional messages. It means delivering valuable information to your target market. Email newsletters work. The out-of-pocket cost ranges from totally free to around $50/month, sometimes more for corporate or enterprise-class programs. How’s your email list looking these days? Grow it and use it!
- Shut up and listen! Get interested in what other people are saying and forget about your own needs when engaging in networking conversations. Be a connector when you spot a good fit. Bring referrals to other people before asking for them for leads. This is how you become more attractive as a business development professional.
- Engage in free speech. You’re the industry expert! Show ’em what you know! Go out and speak at civic clubs, business events, luncheons, trade shows, conferences – keynotes and breakout sessions; anywhere gatherings of potential clients, vendors and partners take place. Follow up with the connections you make and answer the questions you get.
- Write relevant, value based articles. Submit them to business editors in your industry publications online and off. Editors need content. Give it to them! Use a copywriter if you lack good writing – editing skills.
- Advertise when and where you can afford it. For some, such as retailers, this is a constant necessity to keep awareness high and perceptions accurate. For others it’s a good investment in building awareness and identity for long term growth.
- Tell your business story. Contrary to some beliefs, clients do want to know the backgrounds and unique experiences of people with whom they do business. It isn’t only about nuts & bolts capabilities. Bottom lines are also affected by congruence of fit and strength of relationships.
- Expect results in due course. People make the mistake of testing these methods and giving up after they fail to get new business from a short term effort. This isn’t about getting, it’s about building. Builders attract people (customers) to the edifices they create.
Invest effort in the steps above and, as importantly, give these initiatives time to work. Realistically, you should start seeing measurable results after several months to a full year. If you have any specific questions about how to implement these techniques, please feel free to call or send me an email.