By Will Kintish, Business Networking Skills And LinkedIn Authority
Unless you’re in business recovery (It used to be called insolvency when I was an accountant) it’s likely the amount of instructions and new work coming through the door this year is down on the last, say, three years. If I’ve got this wrong I’m delighted for you. However, if you are not bucking the trend, what are you doing about it?
The last ten years or so have been good, and most of your new work comes from recommendation referrals and existing clients coming back for more. When this happens regularly this of course has meant you have a good name, created a good brand, have a good reputation and provide a good service. As things stand now, nothing has changed in that regard, but what are you doing differently? Is it time to crank up your own marketing and business development activity?
Suggestions for action
1. Attend more business events
If activity is slowing down, then you ought to be out at more business events, meeting more people, raising your own and the business’s profiles. Are you asking all the right questions, listening carefully, spotting opportunities, and as importantly, following up? Following up is critical and most don’t because of fear of rejection.
2. Internal Networking for the larger organisation
I don’t like using the phrase ‘cross selling’ but if ever there is a time for building up this activity, then it’s now. You have lots of satisfied clients where you’re only carrying out one particular function for them. Key people and others from various specialities ought to be setting time aside, looking at key clients to see what other services could be available, and then setting up meetings. Don’t sell at these meetings, simply make the introductions and start building relationships.
3. Past and existing clients
Even though clients aren’t with you any more, as long as they’re still in business the chances are they may need your help at some stage. Contact them for no particular reason other than seeing how they’re getting on and asking them what’s happening at the present. Unless you’ve fallen out with somebody on a personal basis, contact old clients as a major part of your marketing.
Most people would rather die than make a presentation but I believe one of the most effective ways of marketing is to give away free and valuable information. Hold seminars, but do ensure that the talk is interesting and presented with passion, energy and enthusiasm. There is no half-way house here, when an excellent presentation is made, it is good for marketing; when somebody bores the audience then it can only damage your brand.
These seminars should be used as much for building new and building on relationships as the presentation itself. Pick the host team carefully; ensure that there is lost of interaction before and after the presentation itself. The host team should meet prior to and after the presentation to ensure everyone is introduced to the right people and afterwards all information should be collected, collated and followed up. The presentation itself, I believe, is simply the hook to get people in through your door and to show how expert you are in a particular field.
When your name is shown in print it suggests that you’re also an expert in a particular topic. Again, using your PR machinery, get as many articles into relevant magazines as possible, ensuring that all contact details are listed at the end. The more you tell, the more you sell.
6. Online activities
Your website ought to be packed with lots of useful and valuable information; maybe some of the outstanding experts in your company ought to be writing blogs, again to show that they have a deep knowledge of their subject. You ignore social media/ networking at your peril... dare I suggest?
Should we be frank and just admit we are in a recession? What's recession? Just a word in the dictionary meaning a significant decline in economic activity or, for each individual could it be a state of mind?
There's still work about, the business world isn't closed; all it means is people wanting to survive have to try that little bit harder. Don't hear the word, 'no' just the phrase, 'not yet'. Don't take the 'no' as personal rejection; it's business. They're only rejecting the offer of your services so until they are ready, willing and able, they won't buy.
You can do something different, or continue to do what they have always done. i.e. wait for things to happen. Only you can make that choice.
The author of this article is Will Kintish, leading UK authority on effective and confident networking both offline and online. If you’d like Will to speak at your conference or training workshops, call him on 0161 773 3727. Visit www.kintish.co.uk and www.kintish.tv and www.linkedintraining.co.uk for further free and valuable information on all aspects of both face-to-face and social networking.
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