Tony Smith is the president of R&R Engineers.
The best things in business are free
Here are several business development actions you can take without spending a dime
Nearly every business today finds itself affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Everyone is taking a hard look at their budgets while trying to navigate the current situation. With nothing but uncertainty on the horizon, it’s worth evaluating which business development actions can be taken without spending a dime.
While there’s some truth to the old adage that you can’t make money without spending money, there are still plenty of actions you can take that cost little to nothing while building and maintaining a rapport with your business partners.
If you have a big meeting, send a thank you card after things wrap up. A sincere email is also an option, but the minimal extra effort to deliver something physical can mean a lot.
Speaking of meetings – showing up to them prepared is completely free. Whether you’re scheduled to speak or simply sit in, take the time to learn about the company or people that you’re meeting with. You’ll want to avoid asking any questions that could have been answered by a five-minute Google search or a quick visit to a company website.
This may feel obvious but strike up a conversation with a colleague that has nothing to do with your job. You don’t want to go too far or too personal but building personal connections in your professional life will serve your career well in the long term. You can easily use your surroundings – and the surroundings of your colleagues – to help find discussion topics, all of which can be done without involving anyone’s wallet.
In that same vein, take time to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. Everyone thinks and communicates differently, so taking the time to understand how a partner or colleague approaches problems can help you avoid misunderstandings and allow for a quicker path to resolution when they occur. It also goes a long way to building a professional rapport. Making someone feel heard and understood makes all the difference even if it is a completely conflict-free partnership.
It’s impossible to overstate the importance of communication in business development, because it’s all about building relationships. It takes some time, but a little bit of effort can make all the difference with a prospective client or colleague. Start by simply asking what you can do for them. Everyone can use a little help from time to time, and often they won’t ask for your help. The answer to your offer may even be nothing, but they’ll remember that you thought to ask all the same.
In the beginning of a business relationship, it’s going to be up to you to build a connection. You don’t want to overwhelm the client with an overabundance of contact early on, but you can use this part of your relationship to ensure your communication is efficient and go above and beyond their expectations. Even something as simple as a weekly update on a pre-determined day can lay the groundwork for a successful partnership.
Once that relationship is built, try and anticipate the client’s needs. They’re always going to have questions and part of your job is to think of those questions before they even have the opportunity to ask.
Every touch point is an opportunity for business development. It’s a chance to showcase your brand, how you operate and demonstrate to your clients why you’re who they want to be working with. That development isn’t just up to the teams who focus on new client interactions, either. Everyone can do their part to bring in new business, especially through current and existing clients and industry partners.
Establishing good word-of-mouth around town isn’t easy, but, like the rest of the advice in this column, it does come free.