Welcome back for the final installment of New Year’s resolutions. To keep yourself motivated to do what you resolve to do, be aware that the key to success with any resolution, personal or business, is willpower. Once you’ve set your goal, then it’s all about execution. Willpower—call it commitment or perseverance if you like— is the x-factor that most often separates winners from losers (although good luck helps, too!).
Invite success by instituting systems that will keep you on your path. Always develop strategies and an action plan for each resolution/goal. Write up your resolutions and action plan timetable and tape it to your office wall. Enter action plan activities and tasks into your calendar. Attach notes to your file cabinet or refrigerator. Reward yourself when key milestones are reached.
Resolve to network with purpose
A colleague named Lisa is very proud of her networking schedule. She brags about attending five or six events every week. The girl is everywhere. A colleague named Erika is out and about less often. She attends an event about once a month and works on getting to know the right people and building relationships over time.
So which Freelance consultant has the better reputation and bigger billable hours? Erika does, by far. She works with name brand clients and she always seems to have a job in (or has just completed or is about to start). The last time Lisa and I spoke, she told me that she hadn’t had a client in about six months. So what’s up? Apparently, Erika has figured out a networking strategy and activities that bring opportunities. Lisa’s “networking strategy” seems to leave her with nothing but a bar tab and a tax write-off for event admission charges.
It’s interesting, because it was Lisa who schooled me on the importance of having a networking agenda:
- Get a client
- Get a referral
- Get information
Unfortunately, the girl does not follow her own advice well enough. While it’s advantageous to have a presence among peers and potential clients and also check out a fresh venue now and again, it’s more important to know who will be in the room and understand why you should spend time and money to be there.
Swanning around town is not a viable networking strategy. The process obviously is random and we never know when and where our next good client will appear—maybe in Pilates class?—but you still need to institute a system and go fishing where the fish you can catch will be. Review your networking strategy and its ROI. How did it contribute to your sales pipeline and what was your conversion rate? Which events might you add or delete?
Take time also to refine the verbal package that is your elevator pitch. Are you communicating the right info about your talents and services that grabs the attention and respect of potential clients? Do you know what their hot-button issues will be in 2012?
Resolve to show more than tell
Clients want relevant information about your services and how they will drive objectives. They need to be assured that bringing you in on a project will make them look smart to both subordinates and superiors.
Rather than just droning on about how wonderful you are, show prospective clients what you can do for them. Set up this process by doing some research on the organization and its mission and customers. Get a working knowledge of how your expertise will be useful.
If possible, tell a story of a similar project you’ve successfully worked on, to paint a picture that helps the client visualize how what you do fits with their needs. With that approach, you may even be positioned to up-sell services they didn’t know they wanted. Present yourself as a trusted resource who is there to promote the client’s interests.
Good luck with your resolutions and thanks for reading,