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Taking time each week to leverage your contacts is one of the most basic things you can do to ensure that your business continues to grow. Even though they are already in your address book, maximizing your relationships takes time, consistency and focus. Your network includes past clients, current clients and all of your prospects.
Mantaining Your List
Did you know that 40% of creatives at advertising agencies change jobs each year? 40%! So that great Art Director that you worked with last month may not be there next month. Where did they go? Who took their place?
The average family moves every five years, every three years for those under 30. So for those wedding and portrait photographers out there who are interested in developing a long term relationship – the so-called “photographer for life” – you have your work cut out for you as well.
So take the time each week, let’s say Friday mornings from 9:00 am until 11:00 am, to do research and maintenance on your contact list.
For example, let’s say that your client was Art Jackson, the Chief Marketing Officer at Acme Advertising. A quick search on Art Jackson Acme Advertising and his LinkedIn profile comes up indicating that he has also had major marketing roles at Main Street Advertising and Modern Marketing. He has recommended two Modern Marketing people on LinkedIn. You can send Art an email to say hello, mention that you saw he used to work at Modern Marketing and had recommended a few others from there, and wondered if he might make a few introductions on your behalf. You’ll also notice that Acme Advertising is owned by Agency X, so ask Art if there are additional people at the other brands within Agency X that he could introduce you to.
Within minutes you’ve identified prospects that you can meet through someone that knows you, likes you and can vouch for your work style and professionalism. Repeat this every Friday for a few hours and your business is guaranteed to thrive.
Starting a Conversation
Once you’ve been introduced a new prospect you’ll need to start a dialogue. One way to begin developing a relationship that leads to new business is to offer help and counsel. Tell them you’ve enjoyed the chance to explore potential ways in which you could work together. Then ask them what initiatives they are working on in your area of expertise and offer to exchange ideas on how you can help. Offering solutions to their challenges or new ideas is a great way to demonstrate your value and develop a relationship.
Now for the hardest part – staying connected. To be top of mind in our competitive world is very important. Part of your weekly routine should include staying in touch with your network. Here are some ideas on how to accomplish that:
Leverage LinkedIn for your recommendations and forward relevant blogs and articles to let your connections know that you’re thinking of them.
Remember the goal is not collecting contacts – it’s making business happen! What is it that you want with your business? Write it down on a piece of paper and put it above your computer. Why? Because success requires discipline and discipline often times is simply remembering what you want.