MYTH: If They Want My Services, They'll Call Me
***After you read this post, be sure to visit me at my new home here.***
A common misconception in business is that when someone needs your product or service (or knows someone who does), they will remember that they've talked to you, pick up the phone and make the referral or introduction. That is, assuming of course, that they still have your contact information. They may remember meeting you, yet if you haven't stayed in touch, they won't be able to recall your name and you will most likely lose out on their business or referral.
You must take control of your business relationships the way you take control of your personal relationships. In personal relationships, when a man picks "the woman," he intentionally develops that relationship. He starts with coffee, then lunch, then dinner, then a weekend away, etc. He keeps asking until he gets the yes, and the relationship (or not). The same holds true in business, except in business everyone is the man. If there's a relationship you want to develop, regardless of your gender, take control and be in touch consistently. The goal is to cross the bridge from friendly to client to friend as quickly as possible.
In business, we all want to do business with those we know, like and trust (also known as our friends). We trust our friends, take their words and opinions to heart and hire them when we have the opportunity. If you're not someone's friend, or at least perceived as friendly, you may miss out. On the flip side, when someone has the opportunity to promote you or get you hired, they will do so with enthusiasm. This, in my opinion, is the easiest and best kind of business to get!
The best way to create solid business relationships is to intentionally, systematically and regularly reach out via phone, email, and personal note. It's a great idea to create a newsletter or blog that crosses their desk on a regular basis, just be sure to give valuable, useful-now information. Understand that "selling yourself" in this way is not well received if its done too often. If distance permits, sprinkle in lunches, meet for coffee or drinks and, if appropriate, an evening event such as dinner, a basketball game or theater production. These are called "touches" and will make sure you are top of mind when the timing is right.
Coach's Action: Make a list of people you know could refer you business if (a) you had a better relationship and (b) you give them business, too, when appropriate. Get something on calendar with each of them and then do it again and again until you consider them a close business relationship (and if possible, a friend). Not only will you get more business, you'll be much more "in the know" about what's happening in your business community.
Here's to your continued success! ~ Coach H.