This article on Building Your Book of Business popped up in my Twitter feed today and I had to share. Mr. Mulvihill’s target audience may be associates, but his suggestions are applicable to solos also and I have made several of these suggestions to friends and colleagues.
I’ll let you read his full list, but let me highlight the two I liked best:
Say “Hello” to EveryoneThink about how many people you walk by on any given day without even looking up from your smartphone because you’re updating your Facebook status. Every one of those people is a potential future client, and you’re busy with cat pictures.
If you walk with your head down, a number of unfortunate things can happen. First, stare at your phone and you could walk into a tree. Second, eyes on the ground says to the world you lack confidence and are afraid. So lift your chin, make eye contact with passers-by, and at least smile if you can’t say “hello.” I hear doing the first two can also decrease your likelihood of being robbed.
Join a Non-Profit Board or Local Civic AssociationForget BNI or other sorts of formal networking events. You want to meet people and build your client base? Do it organically by getting your face out there through work with local organizations.
A friend commented that she hated networking because she was so uncomfortable meeting strangers. She is a brilliant woman who works harder than anyone I can think of as I sit here typing, and she is a reserved introvert. I completely understand her struggle. I am no natural extrovert though I love meeting new people. I find that I enjoy those interactions the most when I’m doing something of interest rather than walking into a lunch and exchanging small talk.
So instead of working a room at a networking lunch, try this instead:
Find a local non-profit who does work that interests you and reach out to them about joining their board of directors. You live in an area with a civic or neighborhood association? Join it, and get involved in leadership. Why? First, it’s good work that needs to be done. Second, you’ll be joining the ranks of civc-minded successful folks. It’s helpful to know successful people.