No discussion of growing your business or income would be remotely complete without addressing the benefits of networking. Getting to know new people is an obvious way of expanding your spheres of influence. Networking can be gracious, professional and authentic.
How committed are you to expanding your circle of friends and contacts? Do you enjoy meeting new people or have you shied away from interactions at networking events? You can be more comfortable if you are prepared with a 30-second description of what you do and why you are passionate about it.
Where can you network – either offline or online? One of the best ways to network is using social media: LinkedIn, Facebook, and even Twitter. Making yourself available authentically to new people promotes your growth and expansion in the world.
Centers of influence are people whom you have identified as having the ability to recommend you to prospective customers. It’s useful to create at least ten classes of COI’s and then populate each class with at least three people. Choose classes that are most useful to you from among: accountants, insurance professionals, attorneys, technologists, etc.
“Top of mind” marketing is based on the reality that at any given point in time, many people are not going to need the products or services you’re offering. However, over a span of time, they either will need you or know of someone who does. If you’ve kept visible in a useful way, you are logically going to be thought of first.
Take your lead lists out of mothballs and create something shiny and new that you can be proud of. Be highly mindful of how you can refer prospects to your COI’s and become part of a mutually supportive community of referrers.
Expanding your income and / or your business is a matter of expanding your relationships. You may have noticed that after a certain point, you have not maintained the same enthusiasm for developing new contacts that you once had. Perhaps the need has changed, and you’re more comfortable. Perhaps you have felt that you don’t want to bother people – or some other excuse has taken hold like you lack the time or patience with the process.
Try on the notion that you’re either expanding or contracting – and that there’s no standing still. Expansion and forward movement does not have to be accompanied by pressure. Small steps, when added together, can equal significant progress. The Japanese word “kaizen” means “some progress, however small.” If you practice kaizen on a daily basis, even if it’s the equivalent of only one step, you’ll find that over time, you’ve expanded your relationships – and, thus, your income and / or your business.
Where can you see a place for the daily practice of kaizen in your professional life? Can you feel the freedom in moving forward each day with zero pressure on how much distance you have to cover?
Among the best ideas for business development and expanding sales is the practice of monthly “marketing touches” over at least a 12-month period. You benefit from regular, consistent visibility to clients and prospects. For example, you can establish a three-month rhythm of . . .
(1) a call
(2) article or general information
(3) an email
. . . for each of the three months of each quarter. Be creative and use any other combinations that you believe will be effective. You may choose to meet in person with some of the people with whom you are communicating.
Much of what has not worked about business development is that it has often been non-uniform. Making a commitment to being visible on a regular monthly basis demonstrates that you hold a person top of mind.
Have you ever tried an approach like this which is designed to build and enhance relationships? What objections, if any, come up for you about your ability to maintain this practice over a year’s time? How many people could you commit to reaching in this manner?
Increasingly, we live in an environment where everyone is a de facto entrepreneur – even if one has a salary. Our economy is trending toward ever more individual responsibility for career choices; and people are changing jobs and careers more than ever – and, obviously, often not because they want to do so.
One of the most basic ways to increase your income as either an employee or a principal is to identify a proven activity that, with consistent application, builds momentum over time and causes an increase in business. The classic example is to make one new business call per day. That’s 20 calls per month talking to someone new – 20 unique conversations. Depending on your business, results could range from good to off-the-charts spectacular.
What are some of your favorite ways to grow income in this economy? How has your business or employer addressed the issue of business development in the last 6 -12 months?