Are you doing this simple and effective networking strategy?
It only takes a few minutes, but if you get in the habit of reaching out to past clients regularly, your business and career will skyrocket.
What is "Take Five Minutes"?
In this series I encourage you to take just five minutes out of your busy day to set yourself up for bigger, better success.
People wonder how they can make their dreams come true: very often, it's a matter of working out a way of making a small dent in a big ambition, putting the right systems in place, and making sure that it's easy for these systems to work.
I will share my own systems, so that you can test them and see whether they work for you.
If you want to share a five-minute system with my readers or indeed give me feedback on how this is working for you, tweet me @SusanHayes_
Remember, it only takes five minutes, right now, to change the course of history - your history at least!
Call an existing client and invite them for coffee or lunch
It just takes 5 minutes: go through your client book, see who's in your area, and call them up, or write them an email if you're more comfortable in writing. If you are travelling for business, all the more reason to do so: "Hi, I will be in your neck of the woods on [date]. Would you like to get coffee and catch up?"
Go back through your orders or invoices and see which clients you really enjoyed working with and which clients you haven't been in touch with for a long time.
Offer to have coffee or lunch with your contact, to see where they're at, what's going on in their world, what's new. You're not trying to sell, you're just keeping in touch. This is all about listening to them.
Aim to do this once every month : it isn't your customer's job to think "We haven't done business with X in a long time, I should give her a call". Instead, it's your job to inspire them to say "We want to order Y amount of stock as that was a great seller and I didn't get a chance to call you to order more".
"But I don't want to bother people!"
You've served them to the best of your ability in the past, why wouldn't they be delighted to see you again? People are happy to network and to keep their ear to the ground. By suggesting you have coffee, you are actually making things easier for them: the opportunity to network, to hear a different point of view and expand their horizons has just landed in their lap, thanks to your offer.
People might decline - that's fine and you shouldn't take it personally. Perhaps they have other things on their mind at the moment. An offer to get coffee is a light additional contact. Even if people are not available, you've just reminded them of you, and the call or the email has served its purpose perfectly.
If you have an additional five minutes, before you call them, think about what might be of value to them. Did you recently read an article that is relevant to their industry? Did you happen to run into someone they might be interested to meet? Did you suddenly remember something about their business, something they said in passing, for which you can give them a tip or some advice? There are many ways that you can add value when you call them "out of the blue".
And if you find that you're worried about annoying people, maybe it's a sign that you would benefit from working on your sales skills, and that you could reframe how you see selling for more inspiring, easier business interactions. You are not an importune telemarketer - you have valuable expertise that solves problems for people and makes their life easier.
"Why would they want to have coffee or lunch with me? They're busy!"
Yes, people are busy. However, people are always on the lookout for opportunities for their business - that's what keeps them busy! And you are just such an opportunity. More likely than not they will be delighted to hear from you. Do you know how many times I have picked up the phone to catch up with a previous client, only to hear "Susan! I was so busy I haven't had the time to call you, but isn't it great that you're saving me the trouble - I was just thinking of you for a new project!"
Did you know an existing client is four times more likely to buy than a new prospect?
Keeping in touch with clients in this light way is an essential part of doing business. These clients are part of your business community, and it's important to nurture that community. It's also a great way to keep your mission firmly in mind: you are in business to help people out, to provide great solutions to their problems, to add value to their life and their business with your service or product.
These contacts in your client book have bought from you in the past. Provided you had a good feel about doing business with them, and you delivered to the best of your ability, they're more likely to buy from you again. Trust has been established, you have demonstrated the value of your product or service, you know how the other functions - this removes a lot of friction, so that both of you can focus on what you do best.
By keeping in touch, you are hitting several business goals: you are networking within your network, which is an amazing way of deepening relationships. It's also market research: you are keeping abreast of latest developments and finding out about your clients' concerns.
Being up to date with what your clients are worried or excited about is the best way to make your business flourish.
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