I attended a meeting last week of the Alliance of Independent Practitioners [Update December 8, 2012 – This is now known as PIC – Professional Independent Communicators, part of Toronto’s International Association of Business Communicators chapter.
The speaker was Jennifer Beale, of unleashpr and BizNetworkNews.
While the topic was networking, and I got TONS of ideas about how to do that, the key ideas that I took away were these:
There are basically four ways that I’m going to bring money into my business:
- Sales (actually “closing the sale” and receiving the money)
- Marketing (generating leads, making contacts and networking)
- Client Retention (repeat sales to current customers)
- Referrals (requesting referrals)
I need to systemize what I’m doing in each of these areas. Creating a system is as simple as three steps:
- Planning e.g. At which networking events am I most likely to find members of my target market?
- Preparation e.g. Do I have business cards to hand out? Do I have a simple and concise way of explaining what I do and who I do it for?
- Action e.g. After I attend the networking event, spend an hour or two on follow-up like adding contacts to my mailing list (with their permission, of course!), sending them promised information or setting up a coffee date. Jennifer suggests we schedule that time in our calendars before we head out.
For each step I can either do it myself, delegate it, and/or find a technology solution to make it easier and more efficient.
Along those lines, Jennifer also mentioned the importance of having a good contact management system. Right now I’m using Outlook, but I did experiment for awhile with a free program called Kurlo. I quite liked it, actually!
[Update December 8, 2012 – I don’t remember Kurlo at all! At this point I use Google Apps for Business.]