By Robyn Henderson
It’s a tight market, so what can you do to edge out your competitors? Let’s look beyond your immediate Chamber of Commerce social networks.
Why? Because when we are used to receiving regular referrals from our networks, we can often become complacent with our regular client base. And the result of complacency is often lost business.
In a tight market, the first step is getting the client, the second step is getting paid for the completed work, and the third step is getting repeat business. First-time work is relatively easy; it’s getting repeat business that’s the key to your business growth. So let’s look at a strategy to gain new business—and keep it!
1. Pick up the phone!
Too many business owners today are using email as their only sales tool, rather than maintaining that personal touch and building their networks. It is not enough to just send a quote or a proposal—you must follow up. You must give your prospect an opportunity to ask questions, clarify their queries, say yes or no, or give you a firm idea of when a decision will be made.
2. Stay connected.
I recently had a conversation with someone who had networked his services from one organization to multiple companies, purely through keeping in touch with a handful of key players and spheres of influence. At one stage all these key players worked together, but after a takeover/merger, all the key players eventually went their separate ways. He had stayed connected with each of them, and individually he was approached to take his services to four different companies—all because he had made the effort to keep in touch.
3. Convert your LinkedIn connections to live connections.
LinkedIn is a dream. When people connect with you, they begin to follow you, and as long as you are a regular LinkedIn user, you will show up on their radar. However, connecting with someone via LinkedIn is not enough. To be more effective, try this strategy:
- Call your contact. Not to sell them your service, but to give them an opportunity to ask questions they may have and build trust, ear to ear.
- Face-to-face of course is the number one way to get to “yes.” Does that mean you walk away with business that day? Maybe, maybe not. What you will have done, though, is move the person from stranger to acquaintance to colleague—before you ultimately move to customer (who buys once), client (who has used your services two+ times) and advocates (those who do your selling for you).
- Arrange a Skype meeting. Short of having coffee, via Skype you are putting a face to the name and the messages and progressing the relationship.
The Bottom Line
Be realistic, flexible, and practical when it comes to growing your business and career. Networking is still one of the best ways to open doors nationally and internationally.
However, once you make the connection, face-to-face or electronically—you must still have systems in place to enable you to maximize connections, build on those contacts, and ultimately convert the connections to real business.
To learn more about Robyn Henderson, click here.
To check out all the upcoming networking events from NYC to Miami, check daily for updated on InkandescentNetworking.com.