We are experiencing one of those incredibly hot summers in California that makes me jealous of all the people who own pools. The pools that allow you to dive into the deep end and enjoy the cool refreshing water rather than the ankle-deep inflatable kid pools that quickly warm up to the outside air temperature.
In a proper pool, swimming in the shallow end is fine for many occasions. It is safe and easy. When approaching the deeper water, it requires more skill and focus, yet with greater payback when you can enjoy cooler temperatures, especially during those hot days.
Developing business relationships is very similar to swimming in pools. You have contacts in the shallow end and in the deep end.
I worked with a client a few years ago who was an expert at swimming in the shallow end of the pool. She was a social butterfly who had an incredibly large network of contacts, however, she struggled with getting any of them to hire her. When we analyzed her dilemma further, we realized that she did not take any of the relationships deep enough for her to learn their needs, for them to understand her area of expertise, and more importantly, for them to trust her.
Getting clients to reach a level of trust takes time, energy, and effort. If you are struggling to find a way to take some of your relationships to the deep end of the pool, consider doing the following:
Stay in touch with your key contacts more often. Sending an email or meeting with someone once a year is not enough. The rule of thumb with your important contacts is to try to get in front of them via Zoom or in-person 3-4 times per year. Consider meeting with them in person if you feel comfortable doing that now. Mix in phone or Zoom calls between in-person meetings. Send them the occasional email about something they are interested in outside of work.
Be more active in social media. The more active you are on LinkedIn or Twitter, the more your contacts will see you. Seeing your name and profile picture appear on a regular basis will help your contacts keep you top of mind. Try to be active 4-5 times per week even for 5-10 minutes a day. It adds up over time.
Learn and remember the important details of your contacts. Knowing the little things about your contacts can make a big difference. Take the time to learn the name of their spouse or partner, if they have kids and how many, what their personal interests and hobbies are, and anything else that stands out about them. Keep notes on them so you do not forget.
For those of you who believe you have a good network but are struggling to find ways to monetize it, you may be spending too little time in the deep end of the pool with many of your contacts. Now is as good a time as any to make that change, especially while your contacts are looking for opportunities to connect with people in person again.
For those of you who own real swimming pools, take advantage of that, too! Taking a quick dip between client meetings might be just the thing you need to do to stay fresh during the day!