Clients are the key to any Rainmaker’s success. Sometimes we make our jobs hard by focusing on the new, potential owner, rather than looking at the source we have right under our nose – our existing clients.
Here, we’re going to talk about how to network with your existing clients. Networking isn’t just about your peers; it’s also about incorporating clients in to your network. Take our Networking Quiz to see how you stack up (hint: it’s not just about LinkedIn):
1. Are your relationships a two-way street or are they all about what you want?
Networking is all about relationships, real relationships. Be prepared to give before you get and be enthusiastic about it. Business associates who develop into friends are the best networking source out there.
2. How knowledgeable are you about your networking contact’s business?
This is the only way to really recognize a potential lead for someone else when you hear about it. Find out as much as possible about those you’re networking with! Talk to them/e-mail them about potential situations where you might hear about leads of interest to them. Make sure people understand your business as well.
3. Do you always do your best for those in your network?
Networking is not an “I did my part, now it’s your turn” philosophy of doing business. Always make a sincere effort towards those in your circle. You may produce three leads to your partners’ one, but the only way to successful networking is through your best effort. Always have a sense of urgency and obligation. Those you’re working with will come to see you in those terms as well.
4. Do you show gratitude?
After receiving information, be sure and follow-up with a thank you. If you get the job, take your network partner to lunch (or, if they’re not local, send them an appropriate gift). Effective networking requires appreciation and recognition.
5. Do you maintain trust with your network partners?
Always determine the confidentiality of information you receive. Never share information provided by a contact with his or her competition. Always ask permission before using your contact’s name as your information source.
6. How much time are you willing to invest?
An effective network can’t be built without spending significant time doing so. Gaining a contact’s trust and developing a system of mutual assistance can’t be developed in a few days. Keeping in contact with your networking sources on a frequent, regular basis is the only way to ensure success. Be prepared to also spend time selling your contact’s services as well. Helping someone else sell is the greatest form of assistance in business networking. Even 15 minutes a day on LinkedIn can tremendously help in the growth and maintenance of your network.
7. How many owners are part of your network?
You’ll know that you are truly connected when you can name a minimum of two to four owners per targeted market sector that are trusted confidants (not just “connections”) as part of your network.
Creating a long-term client capture plan is just one of the topics covered in PSMJ's complimentary e-book The A/E Business Development Bible. This is a concise overview of the essential “must-knows” of business development, direct from PSMJ’s marketing and business development experts.