Written by Dharminder Biharie
Business Development Manager
Xerox Graphic Communication, The Netherlands
No matter your industry, there are certain best practices you likely observe when working on growing your business. For example: you likely have already created a list of customers and prospects, identifying who is doing what, the segments they are involved in, turnover per year, contact details and much more.
In a past blog post, I wrote about the importance of utilizing social networking channels. This still applies, as you are likely connected to a pile of information without realizing it! LinkedIn (and its over 200 million users, as I write this post) is a fantastic tool to get connected with prospects and customers. The ‘search’ and ‘advanced search’ functionality is incredibly powerful, allowing you to filter your people results by company, title, location, keywords, industries, and groups. With a premium account, you can access even more, such as seniority level and company size. Taking a peek and participating in relevant groups also lets you survey the land and find great connections.
So where am I going with all this, you ask? We have a pile of information and a group of individuals who could benefit from your services.
In my last blog post, I discussed the importance of practicing what you preach. If you want to grow your business opportunities, you need to foster the building of trust between your customers and your brand. You need to expand the opportunities of your customers. What I recommend doing is reenacting the “Get Introduced” button from LinkedIn, but in a live setting! LinkedIn is great for identifying prospects, but never discount the value of good ole’ fashioned face-to-face connections!
Organize a meeting or a round table session with 10 (or more) of your customers and prospects revolving around a specific topic. For example: how to acquire new business. Not only will this help you learn how specific segments react to certain topics, but your customers will view this as a great thought-leadership experience.
With you acting as the chairman for this specific topic, invite one of your closest customers to serve as a speaker. This will not only strengthen your relationship with that customer, but through the experiences they share will undoubtedly place your company in the spotlight as a trusted partner. Be sure to jump in and provide your valuable insight as well.
Business success guaranteed! Pizza, coke (diet is my preference) and some beer or wine will ensure your meeting is one to be remembered!
Why would you do this?
First, to be viewed as a thought leader and trusted partner. Second, this presents an outstanding opportunity for your company to grow its network through new connections, and provides your customers and prospects with a setting to share ideas and think outside the box. Third, a networking event like this speaks volumes about your company. It shows your customers and prospects that you have the ability to move people. By motivating customers to attend with a central purpose of helping them expand business opportunities, they will undoubtedly walk away viewing you as the ‘trusted partner’.
One tip: Review topics you’d like to discuss and practice your business pitch in front of your employees. And let them be critical. You can make a mistake in front of your employees, they will forgive you. With a new customer, you have one chance to make a lasting impression.
So again, practice what you preach, and be smart about it!