Tricky isn't it? So many interesting people, so many potential business relations...
Where do you start? How do you begin? I've just been to CorkMeet2009 - teaming with contacts. Almost all the contacts we made are new to us. Tight for time, we face so many decisions. Here's our best shot at how to cope, draw value and start making new friends.
The 7 best things to do:
(1) Make a start. No one knows the best place to start better than you. The way you approach this task shows how you work to others. When we say "make a start", we mean don't sit around wondering how to start. While you're thinking, others are getting on with their lives. The clock is ticking... Time is too rare to be wasted.
(2) Contact people in a style that divides. You don't want to work with everyone. Likewise for them. It helps if you don't try to be all things to all. Best if you adopt a distinctive approach: signal what you're like to work with. This helps those who don't fancy your style to save time. It help you to find out who's already on your wavelength. [For example, we put up a blogpost about who we met at CorkMeet2009. This is unusual. Most like to keep their contacts to themselves for fear of something. We @MarketingWriteNow err on the side of openness. Those who don't like that don't have to work with us.]
(3) Be random. Remember we live in chaos. There's no magic formula that proves "if you begin with the richest client, you'll do best". You might as well begin contacting the person you liked most - irrespective of any calculation. You could spend ages on their website, annual report, checking out all their social network. But life's too short. Follow your gut. We're likely to get our biggest contract & best longterm relationship from a surprise. Before CorkMeet2009, we were asked to name the sector into which we hoped to sell. That was good discipline. Don't let that rule your action.
(4) Enjoy the process of contacting people. If you like the phone, ring up. If you're an email freak, go for it. If, like Paul O'Mahony, you're a social networking lover, don't stifle that joy. Work is here to be enjoyed.
(5) Set aside Tip No 4, practise your blindspots. If you hate cold-calling, now is the time to do it. You met the person, it's not all that cold. It's going to be warmer than ringing the telephone directory or website. All work can be designed to be self-development. Just as every golfer has a favourite club, there are clubs in your bag you avoid using. Imagine this is a bunker. A big pot hole. You climb down into it with your pet driver. How mad is that. Following up a business contact is an opportunity for improving your skills. Sure the worst that can happen is that you leave the ball in the bunker.
(6) Curiosity is the name of the game. It's easy to spend time imagining what the other person's expectations are. Tempting to project your imaginations on to the other. You can tie yourself up in knots, and slaughter a lot of time, calculating which method to use. The process of contacting a new potential client is a process of research. Every experience on the journey reveals reams of new information. The early days in any business relationship are all about mutual 'sussing out'. Even the first tiny wee task you do for a new client is a way to find out whether you'd love to forge a substantial dynamic relationship for greater things. Go looking to find out about your contact. Assume nothing.
(7) Remember JOHARI. There are two things you can do when you first meet a stranger: Gather info about them or Reveal yourself. When you make the contact, remember to balance the communication. Don't spend the time revealing all about your business. Don't go mad asking nothing but questions about the other side. Balance. Do both. Watch how the other person plays it. You'll know you're on to a winner when you experience what it's like to give & take on both sides.