Last night my significant other made one of those statements that made me sort of stare in open-mouthed disbelief. We were having a dinner with a friend, and I was relating my recent success in picking up a couple of additional clients in the last week. The “S.O.” then made the statement, “It’s really pretty amazing considering you’re not really trying to attract new business.”
What? “Well, how many sales calls have you made in a month?” he queried.
Well, I suppose it’s a good point. If I were him watching me go about my business, I’d be a little incredulous at the pipeline of clients as well. The key to my “success” (which is defined by paying the mortgage and keeping all the financial plates up on sticks) is a fairly outgoing personality, connecting with people, and never, ever thinking that any one person is more “important” to me than another. I’m just as likely to chat up the receptionist, coat clerk and the waiter as I am a company president. In previous positions, whether working with PR clients or interviewing sources for an article as a reporter, I always tried to make a personal connection. Everyone, whether an internationally acclaimed designer or the guy who runs the hotdog cart, appreciates feeling as if you genuinely care about them and their business.
I have been shocked by people who will walk away from a conversation and smirk something along the lines of, “Loser, they don’t have any money to spend with me. I’m not going to waste my time on that.” I can safely say if I’d had that attitude, I might just be working as a greeter at the local Wal-Mart … if I was lucky. Mutual respect, karma, call it whatever you want. It makes a difference. But it doesn’t work alone. In other words, I can’t just sit in my home office thinking good thoughts and being nice to people.
So, I employ a number of networking vehicles to let folks know that I’m out there and available for work. I joined the Carmel Chamber of Commerce which I have always found to be a great source of professional relationships. Shortly after launching “Pickett&Associates,” I ramped up my social media efforts, letting all those LinkedIn contacts and Facebook friends know my situation. I went through the old “Rolodex” of business cards and sent emails to people I thought might either need my services or know someone who did. I established professional alliances (like WhiteHot Marketing!) with those folks on whom I knew I could depend for expertise and a helping hand. I had several meetings over a cup of coffee just exchanging ideas and gathering information.
I began the effort to establish myself as an expert. I launched this blog, and push it out to my social network contacts; I tweet daily (sometimes more) about some industry trend or report. I comment on other expert’s posts, creating conversations with some of the profession’s most innovative thought leaders.
And I believe, “Success breeds success.” So, when I gain a new client or a client has a success — a media “hit,” a stellar sale, an event — I “talk about it” via Facebook and LinkedIn. That lets folks know that I’m working with other entrepreneurs and doing some good work.
So, I spend about an hour a day making “sales calls” … Through social media, through professional networking, through just the people I meet in my community. Like the really sweet business owner I met while purchasing the significant other’s Christmas present. I have a meeting with her later this week to see if I can help “get her business out there.” Stay tuned!