Greensilkmuse's Blog


5 Tips for Developing Business

Posted in Business by greensilkmuse on May 5, 2010

Are you great at developing business?  Are you looking for ways to do it better?  Since I have my own business, I need to develop business in order to survive.  It is something I’ve had to learn so, in addition to getting advice from and observing those who do it well, I tap into the vast array of articles, books, blogs and webinars devoted to business development.  These include advice and insights on selling, marketing, and networking.  Much of the current advice is targeted towards getting the best use out of on-line social networks.

It’s amazing how many “experts” are out there.  Even more amazing is how they all say exactly the same thing!  Is there any research behind this?  Any proof?  Or are they just recycling each other’s advice?   Several of them say that they have used the techniques themselves and have grown their business this way.  Others point to the success of certain businesses and have suggested that the use of social media is what gave these successful businesses a competitive edge.  What they suggest always seems to make a great deal of sense.  Or perhaps they are just good at telling stories.

Whether developing business in-person or virtually, while the media may be different, the approach is pretty much the same.  If anything, we should all be getting better at face-to-face business development as a result of our on-line experience.  Technology tends to magnify and heighten our experiences.   If something has a lot of steps, doesn’t move logically from one place to the next, is hard to find – technology will but a big spotlight on the warts.  It stands to reason that by showing up in the right forums, adding value to conversations, engaging on a personal level, and capturing word-of-mouth referrals and recommendations, we can use social media to put a positive light on ourselves.  If we want to be engaging, easy to do business with and easy to access, then we need to “show up” this way in all our interactions.  That is, our on-line presence and our off-line presence should be consistent.

The trick is finding the right places.  Where to go to have conversations with potential clients?   Many of the on-line forums are cluttered with the comments from countless others and it is mind-boggling how much of it says absolutely nothing of value.  Does it make sense to add your voice to this already over-crowded space?  If you do, who will hear it? 

I tend to be picky about where I contribute.  I choose the places where I think there is a greater likelihood of turning an on-line connection into an off-line relationship. 

The gurus of digital marketing tout practices for improving the chances of showing up on the first page of a Google Search.   I suppose it is good to be found, but for an independent consultant like me, someone actually needs to know your name or the name of your company if they are going to find you in a Google search.  What does come up in a search for management consultants?  Sponsored links – CSC, Accenture, Deloitte.  McKinsey shows up on the first page, even though theirs is not a sponsored link.  If you search different specialty areas, the large consulting firms doing work in those areas come up.  They have the resources to constantly blog, publish, speak, tweet, etc. so good for them for their search engine optimization!

Of course, the people who have expertise in a particular niche, the ones who cover the newest developments in that space and write constantly develop large followings.  Mashable  is a great example of this.

While you may not achieve first-page status, I think one cannot develop business today without an on-line presence.  It is another forum for expressing your unique voice and for making connections, some of which can develop into more significant business relationships.  Whether on-line or off-line – here is a summary of tips from various sources (webinars, articles, books, etc.) for developing business:

  1.  Be present.  You need to show up in order to make connections and be found.
  2. Listen.  Monitor the conversations.  See what’s on people’s minds so your contributions are relevant.
  3. Contribute.  Ask not what they can do for you, but what you can do for them (to paraphrase a famous presidential quote).
  4. Engage.  Be conversational, authentic, and consistent.  Build personal relationships.
  5. Build community.  Share the wealth.  Connect your connections with each other.  Your contributions will go viral.

Above all – demonstrate what you have to offer.  Let folks taste the wine before they decide to order the bottle.  

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