By now, most of you are settling into your new work environment. Some have greater challenges than others. Whether being confined to a small city apartment or a household of children who now need to be homeschooled, this transition hasn’t been easy.
During these uncertain times, I find it healthy to reflect on upbeat memories. I recently recalled the feeling I had when I purchased my first car with my own money — a ’66 Mustang powered by a V8 289 engine. Pure joy! When properly maintained, it was a dream to drive.
In that vein, this is not the time to let your business development engine idle. In fact, now is the time to keep the foot on the pedal and get creative with strengthening your internal and external relationships. It is also an excellent time to work on your personal brand and wellbeing.
In the spirit of a V8-powered Mustang, here are 8 tips for maintaining your business development engine on the rough roads ahead:
1. Create a system to better organize your relationship development and tracking.
Most professionals I meet do not have an effective method of tracking their important relationships. If your firm recently invested in a CRM (Client Relationship Management) tool, now is the time to learn it and start using it. You can also create a simple Excel spreadsheet that organizes your relationship groups into separate “buckets.” I use one for myself and prescribe to my clients an Excel tool that I created called the Relationship Tracker. It encompasses the important elements – Priority Ranking, Location, Last Contact, Comments, and Follow Up Steps.
For more on this topic, feel free to read my blog on cleaning up your network.
2. Create or revise your business plan.
If you haven’t written a plan on how to prioritize your business development efforts in a strategic manner, now is the time. Think of those relationships that are going to be most important to develop and why. Set realistic and stretch goals considering the uncertain market. Reevaluate what else you can be doing to improve your credibility and brand. If you already have a plan, consider revisiting it. Consider resetting your goals to be realistic yet still challenging this year. Revisit your target client list. Adjust the time you need to allocate to BD activities that make the most sense in the changed work environment.
3. Consider ways to give back to the market.
As Zig Ziglar said “you can have everything in life you want if you will just help other people get what they want.” This is a time to ask how you can help others. Offer a free 30-minute consultation to a prospective client in need. Join an association of interest and ask how you can get involved. Donate to a non-profit that is helping the people most affected by the pandemic. Now is the time to help your network without worrying about receiving anything in return.
4. Learn and leverage social media.
If your social media knowledge is limited, reach out to a coach, colleague, family member or friend for help. Once you learn the basics, invest time posting and reading content on LinkedIn and/or Twitter that will strengthen your brand and broaden your market knowledge.
5. Collaborate with colleagues, clients, prospective clients or other subject matter experts.
Co-author an article or co-host a webinar or Zoom discussion. Reach out to colleagues in other practice areas or departments to discuss how to work together on growing target clients. This is an excellent way to not only strengthen your credibility but also deepen relationships with those who partner with you.
6. Take care of your important clients.
How often do you think about why clients choose to work with or refer you? Your expertise and experience are the baseline criteria for most clients. The quality of the relationship is often the determining factor. Build a relationship with them like they are family. What else could you be doing to take care of these people during such difficult times? Think about what you can do to go beyond the normal call of duty to show them that you care. Maybe it is sending a small gift such as an Amazon or Netflix gift card that they may appreciate while working from home. Offer free group calls for anyone on their team who might need support. Or maybe it is as simple as lending an ear in a time when they need emotional support. There is no one right way. Think about what is important to that particular client and act now.
7. Take care of yourself.
It is easy to be caught up in the daily grind of back-to-back Zoom calls or computer work in your new “bunker.” Step away from your computer and give your mind a break and your body some exercise during the day. Movement keeps you alert, productive, and healthy.
8. Look for the silver lining during this sobering time of uncertainty.
By now, cabin fever is slowly setting in for many of us. The inclination is to get down and frustrated. We need to fight against these feelings as best we can.
Instead of getting depressed, unmotivated, or fueling every conversation with COVID-19-related news, try to look at this time of change as a new opportunity for improvement in your life.
I believe this is an excellent opportunity for many of us to push “reset” in our lives. It is easy to get caught up in the daily grind, which may include enduring the dreaded daily commute, living out of an airport, eating poorly, not exercising, and worse yet, not spending enough time with family and loved ones. Take this opportunity to reconnect with what is most important to you and what charges your batteries.
This disruption will eventually pass. In the meantime, take this opportunity to fine-tune your business development engine to not only get through the rough roads ahead but to also incorporate better habits for the long-term journey beyond this crisis.
On a Personal Note
I wrote this article from my home office I started more than 4 years ago in Truckee, CA. A small mountain town in Lake Tahoe, CA that has now been listed as a COVID-19 hotspot. I understand the challenges that most all of you are enduring now. Please do not hesitate to reach out if you have questions as they relate to business development, working from home, or dealing with the stress of our changed work environment.
Stay healthy and safe!