As any experienced business developer will tell you, conversations are the key to client engagements. When you are face-to-face with the people who can hire you, it's only a matter of time before they mention an issue that you can help them solve.
The challenge is that, unless you are already working with them on something urgent, there is little incentive for them to spend that kind of time with you.
Sure, you can search their social media or the news and hope there's something topical that warrants discussion. You can "touch base" with an innocuous check-in (if you know them well enough), and try to parlay the call into a business discussion. You can even invite them to your next event—maybe they are so desperate for company that they will prioritize a firm mixer into their social calendar. But mostly, these overtures feel like flimsy excuses to network.
The only way you will capture their attention is if you offer them something they want. And right now, that isn't your professional services (or they would have called you already).
You have to align your outreach with the topics and activities they care about. There are three ways to do this:
- Leverage Your Marketing Data: Your inbound marketing software can tell you which of the articles, alerts, and invitations your clients are clicking on. Note the topics that most often capture their attention, and then convert those topics into tailored presentations.
- Facilitate Unique Experiences: Most of your clients would rather spend the evening with their families than at the steakhouse for another business dinner. But as you become more familiar with their personal interests, you can offer the kind of social experiences they will prioritize. The hardcore Dodgers fan will certainly accompany you to a playoff game. Your foodie client would be more than happy to join you for drinks at the new fusion restaurant everyone is talking about, especially if you send ahead some of the culinary reviews. And the Depeche Mode fan will gladly attend a retro concert with you as the band tours through your town. Pair your invitations to their passions and let FOMO take care of the rest.
- Interview Your Clients: Sometimes honesty is the best policy. Call your clients and tell them that you would like to offer value-adds that they will find compelling. Ask them what kinds of things would capture their interest. Social or business? Formal presentations or informal brainstorming? When you offer the experiences they ask for, you will find them much more inclined to accept your invitations.
So, if you are looking for ways to initiate more conversations and deepen relationships with your client base, tune your dial to the frequency they most want to hear: their own.
Looking for more ways to enhance your business development skills? Check out these articles:
- "I can't send another email, I'll seem like a stalker!"
- A Networking Lesson... from Netflix?
- 4 Steps to Maximize your Visibility on LinkedIn
Curious to find out who your key relationship targets should be? Check out our free guide to relationship targeting at the link below.