You’ve been cold calling. You’re calling Northwest Equipment Supply for the fifth time, and Julie the receptionist answers. You recognize her voice and chat as if you’ve been friends for years. She happily transfers your call to who you think is the decision maker, only to be directed to the voicemail. Who answers their voicemails, you ask yourself? You immediately hang up, wondering if two messages were already two too many.
Business development is a difficult challenge. As your colleagues, mentors, and managers have told you, “it’s a numbers game, for every 100, you’ll get one or two.” It requires patience, dedication, and timing on catching the right person at the right time. You’re personable, outgoing, and people like you. So, why not make some calls, and then focus your strengths elsewhere? Why not get out and attend your local networking events where other business professionals are doing the same? The value that you’ll receive from doing so benefits not only yourself, but also the company you work for in many ways. Some of the benefits you’ll experience are increasing company marketability, building better connected relationships in the targeted industries, and earning trust.
What an extremely efficient way to market your business, for little to no cost. Load up your pockets with your business cards, check out your local listings for networking events, and fill your calendar. As you head into these events, the way that you represent yourself reflects the business that you work for, and you’re in turn increasing your company’s exposure by being well-dressed and able to tell your story. You’re not a salesman; you’re providing potential business partners valuable information, thus marketing towards them in a fashion that’s authentic and appreciated. This allows you to follow up with the three to five solid contacts you’ve made, where you can spark the next conversation.
There are many people at any given event, so it’s crucial in keeping your approach short and sweet so you can better gauge who’s worth your time. As you are able to easily relate to those three to five solid contacts that you’ve met out of the bunch, you have a prime opportunity to continue the discussion after you’ve captured their attention. They like you, you’ve impressed them, and you’re excited because, through the traditional route of working towards doing business, your strengths are being put to practice and paying off. One of the contacts may not have a direct need for your products or services, but you’ve earned their trust, and trust in itself just projected you and your company above everyone else who has spent countless hours making call after call.
Trust can very well make or break whether or not a company will even do business with you. If someone doesn’t trust you, how do they know you’ll do a good job for them? At this point in the process you’ve marketed yourself and you’ve built a solid relationship, so chances are you’ve won those three to five contacts’ trust. What’s next? Set up a time to meet for coffee. They’ve learned about you, you’ve learned about them, and so the next steps are getting into touch with their decision maker. This solid contact is the gatekeeper, the person who can introduce you to that particular decision maker. Coffee is very informal and neutral, and it’s not nearly as sales-pitchy but instead focuses on informational gathering.
Finally, after meeting for coffee, you can be confident that you’ve successfully captured a great business opportunity, taking initiative by networking. The value of this approach certainly coincides with your cold-calling, however it’s authentic and traditional, and it enables you to put your best strengths forward with the people that you seek business from. You’ve just made three to five solid contacts from a networking event or trade show that you’ve attended, and those relationships were captured in an hour’s time. You’re in your comfort zone, being around people, and so you are able to shine in the spotlight, are excited about the work that you do, and you didn’t need to leave any voicemails in hopes of talking to the right person.