Gary Mitchell's Biz/Dev Coaching Blog
To kick off 2018 I’ve created a new LinkedIn Group-Professional Services Marketing Group.
The purpose is twofold. 1st, to offer a forum where professional service providers can share insights and knowledge, wins and challenges as they grow their businesses. There is power in collective wisdom.
The 2nd goal of this group is to allow you to network ‘virtually’ with other professionals; build relationships and develop more referrals.
The concept of the ‘Mastermind Group’ comes from author Napoleon Hill, in his book “Think and Grow Rich”, published in the early part of the last century. I’ve always loved the concept and many of my clients have and continue to use this strategy to grow their businesses.
And then invite your best referral sources and contacts to join. The more members, the more collective wisdom and the potential to build more relationships leading to more referrals, leading to more business.
#businesscoach #mastermindgroup #growyourbusiness
Shotgun approach or strategic approach? That’s easy. Strategic. Don’t do what everyone else does (‘show up and throw up’). Look at building your profile from the client’s perspective first, then your own. Here’s how you can avoid the lacklustre results you get from a self-centred shotgun approach by being strategic about how you build your profile: First, be where your target market is; second, be relevant. How do you do that? Ask your current clients what events they attend and why. Ask them what they read and why. Ask them what content would be of value to them and why. Find out what’s missing. Then contact the associations and publications your target market attends and reads and ask them the same questions. This is a highly effective and strategic way of ensuring you are where your target market is and you’re relevant to them and their needs.
I find far too many lawyers put too much pressure on themselves when it comes to networking. And most of the time, the solution is in the ‘how’ and ‘where’ of networking. What is networking after-all? Well it’s not sales. You are not there to pitch yourself or your services. Networking is about meeting people. Outside of work, you meet people all the time and it’s natural. Why not take the same approach to your professional networking. This should be fun folks, not painful as it is for so many.
The way to make networking more natural for you is by taking a keen and curious approach to the people you are meeting. Get to know them. Ask questions. Questions which will lead you to understanding more about them and if you think it’s worth investing your time in building a relationship with them. One of my favorite questions to get a conversation started is “What brings you here today?”. Others include, “what do you hope to learn today?”, “how long have you been coming to these events?” Not only will you feel more comfortable when networking, but you will actually learn something about the other person, which if you choose to, you can use when following up with them.
Everyone networks whether we like it or not. And networking is still one of the best ways to find more people who need your services, find more referral sources and make it easier for them to find you. How about if you had a sure-fire way of getting the conversation started in a genuine and meaningful way? One of the best questions you can lead with is “What brings you to this event?” You’ll be amazed at the amount of information you can begin to gather about the other person when you start with that question. This is also a perfect opportunity for you to continue with your ‘soft’ target market research by asking them, “What other events do you attend and why? What publications do you read? And, What topics are of interest to you? You can gather market research, learn something about them, and keep the process natural and genuine all at the same time.
Sure you’re already networking. But are you meeting the right types of people? Here are a couple of quick tips to ensure you are meeting more of the right types of people. Firstly, you want to make sure you are going to the right events. Simply ask your ideal clients and best referral sources where they hang? In other words what professional associations do they belong to and what events do they attend.
Then before attending your next event, reach out to the organizers to see if they will give you a copy of attendees. Target 2-3 people from that list to meet. And, circulate that list amongst your network to see if any of your existing contacts know people on the list. Have them make an email introduction of you before the event. Follow up with your own email inviting them to meet at one of the networking breaks. Finally, ask the organizers if they would introduce you to people they know. Follow these three strategies and watch your network grow.
Firms are always so quick to throw money at client events. But are you getting the biggest bang for your buck? Why not bring in a coach to work with your team ahead the event and set it up for success. You can use the event as a way of giving your team real practice of tips and approaches they have learned ahead of time.And you can build some accountability into the mix by having them report on their progress in follow up.
There are so many ways you can fully leverage the time of your professionals, give them a chance to learn, better connect with your clients, and watch what happens to your business.
One of my current clients is on fire with this approach. She is following my advice and laying out a plan of action for every event. So I am not surprised when she reports back that she is achieving most or all of her objectives at every event she attends. Who do you want to meet? Who do you already know that can make introductions? Do you want to get involved with the organization and if so, who is the best person to approach?
These are just some of the many questions to ask yourself before every event-watch how your networking efforts start to pay off in droves.
It never ceases to amaze me who I meet at the dog park. Keep in mind, we don’t start out talking about work or business. In some cases it could be weeks or months until we know each other’s names. It is so easy to meet people where there is a common interest-in this case dogs. You could also meet people at your daughter’s soccer practice or your son’s baseball game. It’s a very natural way to meet people and expand your network. You never know when and where the opportunities will come from.
The next time you are networking try a different approach. Don’t lead with your ‘elevator speech’, instead get the conversation started about THEM. Ask them some seed questions to begin to understand more about them and if they are people of interest. And don’t fear ‘small talk’, just don’t do it.
A great starting question is “What brings you to this event?” Some others include:
What other events do you attend and why?
Are you a member here? For how long?
What value do you get in attending these types of events?
From there a natural conversation will ensue and you will begin the process of getting to know them better. And don’t be surprised when you get to learn more about their challenges.
My clients often get tied up in coming up with that ‘perfect pitch’. And I tell them over and over again, “don’t pitch, ask questions”. Get to know what they need, what their challenges are. Use that valuable time to build or strengthen your relationship with and them demonstrate a willingness to listen and learn about them.
If you ask the right questions, your contacts, clients and soon-to-be clients will tell you everything you need to know in order to market to them and serve them well.