- A: Spilled a drink on a contact. Angela told me that once she intentionally spilled her drink on a key prospect (male) as a means of starting up a conversation. They got to talking about many different things. When she offered to pay for his dry cleaning, he politely declined, but they exchanged business cards and have continued to stay in touch.
- A: Sat in the lobby for 2 weeks. Angela also told me about one of her colleagues who is practically an urban legend at her company. He lived on the East Coast of the USA and traveled weekly to their West Coast office to try to develop a relationship with a major prospective client that he company was targeting. In order to get noticed, he showed up at the prospect’s corporate office every day for two weeks and just sat in the lobby. He would see people coming into work and they would see him. He became friendly with the receptionist – the first gatekeeper. He did his work in their lobby, until little by little, people started to say hello to him. They started to take him seriously. He was one committed, determined and gutsy guy. He wanted their business. Within 2 weeks of sitting in their lobby, he was invited in for a meeting. Within a few months, he landed a $50 million piece of business. Now, that’s a lobby-ist.
- How about You? What is the craziest thing you’ve ever done to make a new business connection? Share your short story on Facebook.com/Networking-Ahead-for-Business
Q: How do you strengthen your networking connections within a prospective client?
- A: Map out the key players. Angela and her business development team do tons of research on their prospective client. They get to know the backgrounds and responsibilities of the key players at the client and then “map them” to their company. They then set a networking action plan to have people at her company develop relationships with complementary position at the client. “We want our connections to be deep and wide at our client companies. This way, we are less vulnerable to a single player leaving the organization. We have many strong threads in our business connection.” You want a connection at every level.
Q: Who helps you navigate through the prospective client’s processes and procedures?
- A: Get a client coach. Once you start developing relationships within the prospective or existing client company, identify a friendly player who would be willing to guide you through the process. A good client coach will help you understand the ins and outs so that you can provide the best service to the client. When asked if there was any conflict of interest in this arrangement, she said no. It’s a standard practice.
Q: How do you go about meeting a top executive at a prospective company?
- A: Go where they go. Find out what events, conferences and charity balls they will be attending. Find out what boards and committees they serve on (that’s public information). Know where they will be speaking. Make it your business to be in the same rooms. Angela also told me that her company will often invest in purchasing a table at charity events and golf tournaments and then invite the top executives, even if she already knows that they are committed to going already. Show up and make the important connections. That’s your job in business development.
Thank you Angela for all of these juicy business development ideas. Clearly you are a confident, skilled and motivated networker and it has paid handsome dividends for you and your business.
Your Networking Goal for this Week
Identify five companies and/or people that you need to make contact with and build closer relationships with in order to advance your business or career. Put a little more strategy into your networking activity and be more targeted in your approach. Think about networking in terms of business/career development.