Need more clients? Here’s a hot tip: stop shopping in your own backyard.
A big mistake that many self-employed professionals make is that they spend most or all of their networking time with their colleagues and peers.
Coaches sit on the boards of coaching organizations, consultants attend conferences and give presentations to their fellow consultants. Lawyers talk to lawyers…you get it.
Now, don’t get me wrong – networking and honing your skills by learning best practices in your industry is valuable to you professionally. But, if you don’t have enough clients and you’d like to boost your revenue you’ve got to get out of your comfort zone and into your client’s home territory.
Being industry-incestuous not only hampers your ability to find and woo new clients, it can atrophy your marketing and business development efforts.
When you spend too much time immersed in industry-focused groups, you become programmed to think about your peers, not your clients.
Your marketing efforts are attempts to impress your colleagues, not speak to your prospects.
You use your group’s professional jargon, instead of the plain language of people seeking solutions to their problems.
You lose touch with your ideal client’s wants, needs and aspirations. And that’s the kiss of death.
So how do you avoid industry incestuousness, and continue to learn, grow and improve your professional skills? Three tips:
1. Split your networking/development time.
Spend 50% of your allocated networking time with prospects and the other 50% with industry colleagues and professional associations. (And if you really need to boost the number of clients you work with, consider putting all the industry and community involvement on pause for a period of say, six months.)
2. Change where you focus your attention.
If you’re a marketing consultant, do you spend hours each week keeping up with all the marketing newsletters, blogs and websites published? Follow marketing gurus on Twitter and Facebook? Again, hit the pause button for a few months.
Subscribe to newsfeeds, read blogs and visit websites of people and businesses that match your ideal client profile. Knowing the latest change to Google’s page ranking algorithm won’t be as compelling to a prospect as letting him or her understand that you understand their needs and circumstances.
3. Talk to your prospects and clients.
Every day. Make a point to have a conversation with a prospect or client. (And no, a conversation about the project you’re working on does not count!) Ask them about their biggest business or personal challenges around your area of expertise. And listen. Really listen. Note the words they use; those are your marketing gold.
Your fame boosting assignment:
Rationing your networking time, changing your focus and having one conversation each day…easy, right? Yep. Now do it and revel in the rewards!