If you are in New England, you are starting to feel the pain of weekly snowstorms. Each one adds up to a foot of snow or more in our yards these days. With yet an other storm approaching this week, forecasters are asking people to stay off the roads. With today’s technological advances, this doesn’t present too many issues with keeping on pace with work demands. It does, however, interfere with getting together with contacts and clients for business development purposes. So, what can we do to maintain these essential relationships when we can’t see them face-to-face? Here are a few snowy day activities to employ:
- Place personal phone calls. The old fashioned phone call has fallen off the radar in recent years with the increase in email, texting and IMs. Picking up the phone and placing a call is a personal approach that sustains relationships through the short term. Call to touch base, offer help, tell them something new or to commiserate!
- Personalized emails. A distant second to the phone call is to craft a thoughtful email. Make the email content useful– attach a recent article about something they would be interested in.
- Use Linked In. Update your profile, post a relevant status, comment on a group discussion and search for people you know and ask them to become a connection.
Snowy days may keep you from seeing people in person, but it shouldn’t be an excuse to halt your relationship building and business development goals. Keep your momentum going from the warmth of your home, and when the snow is gone, get out and see people again.
Set up your marketing programs to succeed from the beginning. Stretch yourself out of your comfort zone, reaching for the edge of your limitations. Just be mindful… do not over promise on your ability to deliver. That behavior has inherent risk for disappointment. Gain trust and build relationships with the ability to build a personalized plan and then meet, or exceed, the demands while admitting to your limitations. Here are a few tips to consider in this process:
- Define client expectations. Figure out what your clients and colleagues hope to gain from your engagement. Talk with them about how to reach their goals and then plan the roadmap. Stretch your cumulative abilities, but don’t over-promise in the process. If you realize that you can’t deliver to the client’s expectation, speak up. If the client’s expectation aren’t reasonable, gently redirect them through incremental goals. Concrete honesty builds credibility.
- Stay current. Read everything you can about your industry and how others are marketing themselves. At the same time, keep tabs on similar industries to see what new methods are successful and then step it up in your own industry. Build your knowledge base and then share it with your clients.
- Write (and publish!) on interesting topics. Use your research and knowledge to write on topics related to your industry. Report on your successful methods. Present yourself as a knowledgable leader by sharing your published material with your clients and related trade associations.
New Years Resolutions can be daunting. Don’t let that stop you!! They are an important piece of business success. I have often told clients to plan on succeeding. If you don’t, you make much harder work for yourself! Resolutions do not need to be a complete overhaul, but instead incremental steps to reaching overall annual goals.
Bite the bullet and give them a try. Make goals and plan the pathway. Here are a few resolution tips for business people:
- Create realistic goals that stretch you a little
Goal setting is valuable. Setting goals that are achievable is important. Of course, you can’t make all goals really easy… you need to stretch out of your comfort zone a little if you are to truly grow personally and professionally. Dreaming is important, but unless you have a long-term plan to reach those dreams, you will find yourself frustrated and unproductive. Start by creating a short list of business goals. Do you want to thrill your current clients, expand your geographic scope, make more money, etc… Once you have this list in place, you can identify the specific components of a plan.
- Promote your business regularly
Based on your goals, identify your audience, create a budget, understand existing resources. Then…talk with your network! Open two-way conversations with people– find out what they are working on and how you can help. Everyone has a network– whether large and well-cultivated or small and untapped. Both offer potential for positive publicity. Regularly talk about your business in a public way– either in one-on-one meetings, through social networks or via publishing opportunities.
- Plan to work on Marketing
Planning is essential to success. Book appointments with yourself, and members of your network, every week. Commit to a set amount of time each week and make it non-negotiable time. Whether you opt to do it all in one day (say, Tuesday afternoons you spend on marketing) or spend 20 minutes daily. Whatever works best for you, just mark it in your calendar as ‘busy’ so that no one can intrude on it. Also, track your time so that you may measure it quarterly– use your time-keeping system, on outlook, a spreadsheet or an old-fashioned hand-written log.
- Assess your successes and failures
You can’t always be successful in your initiatives. Take time to evaluate the year that just closed. What marketing activities worked for you, what didn’t reap the results you hoped for? Did you spend enough time on those failed attempts? If you feel you gave it a solid, old-college try, then drop it. Move onto to more of the successful initiatives or try something new. Just commit to doing it!