Contrary to popular opinion marketing and BD does not need to be a time-draining, energy sapping diversion from what you’re supposed to be doing. To a man the most successful business developers subscribe to the law of ‘little and often’; small gestures that require almost no time and effort and certainly no budget.
Here are 3 of those things and I will say with complete certainty that if you adopt them today, they will make an immediate impact on your business development
1. Build your A list
Without falling into sweeping (and probably very unfair) generalisations, the mistake many lawyers and accountants make with marketing and business development is that they try and do too much with too many people.
Your key contacts (whether they are professionals, clients or industry contacts) should really number no more than 6-8. Obviously you will know many more and will meet even more during your career. What we’re talking about here are the A list, those who:
- Provide the most new work/introductions/referrals
- Offer the highest likelihood of throwing your name into the hat when new opportunities arise
- Can provide the most valuable insight into your chosen markets
The good news is you already know who they are. All you need to do is take 5 minutes out of one day, list them on a piece of paper then sketch out a very basic contact plan to ensure you see them intermittently (3 or 4 times) throughout the year and email/call them/invite them to the firm’s events in between times.
If you email me I will even send you a copy of the template we use.
2. Commit 2 minutes a day to LinkedIn
If you download the LinkedIn app you can do all you need to do in 2 minutes. Have a quick scroll through while you’re waiting for your train to leave or while you’re waiting for the kettle to boil for your first cup of team in the morning. During those 2 minutes you can:
- Like a few things or share a few things your contacts have posted (these could very well be the stuff posted by your A list …!).
- Cut and paste a link to a relevant news story (you can make sure these links come to you with no effort at all by signing up for Google alerts or by signing up for the e-newsletters produced by the publications that report on your sector or practice area) or to a new piece of content a colleague’s just published on your website.
- Scroll through your contacts and send a quick “hello, how are you, must catch up” message to someone you’ve not seen for a while (but know you should) via the direct message function.
All of these options take less than a minute but if you do at least 2 per day, you will stay in front of the people you already know … all of whom have already given you permission to stay in touch by LinkingIn in the first place!
3. Make 1 phone call per week that you don’t strictly have to
I’m not talking about the type of phone call you make instead of sending an email. BD 101 dictates that if you are going to be a successful BDer, you should always call rather than email wherever possible because it facilitates a faster and more effective resolution than an extenuated email chain will ever achieve whatever the circumstances.
What I’m talking about is initiating conversations you wouldn’t otherwise be having whether that conversation is with a client, a referrer or just someone quite interesting you met.
Again this is not time consuming. Follow this 3-step model and you will have change from 5 minutes and, in my experience that’s less time than it takes the average cup of team to cool to a drinkable level. Here is that 3-step model:
- Scroll through your Outlook contacts and choose the person you want to contact that week (2 minutes)
- Set a reason to call them which could be anything from a good old-fashioned catch-up to an introduction to a new client/contact or an invitation to an upcoming social event (2 minutes)
- Find their phone number and ring it (1 minute)
If you have 6 weeks off per year that means you will have 46 conversations with people who know/trust/like you that you wouldn’t otherwise have and are you seriously going to tell me the follow up from those conversations won’t generate at least one new opportunity?
No, I didn’t think so!
*While I am willing to guarantee all work, I cannot guarantee which will work first or the order in which they’ll work. As with all things BD, different people react to different things at different times so if you are going to maximise the impact of these 3 initiatives you need to do all 3 in tandem on that all important little & often basis.