Someone you’ve been referred to can’t be reached and isn’t returning your calls. Nothing else can happen until this is done. It’s frustrating. But, it can be addressed.
Assume your referrals are distracted and self-absorbed. Why? Because they are! Consequently, ‘breaking through the clutter’ won’t be easy unless you can appeal to what they perceive to be either a) potential threats to their safety or life and/or b) possible opportunities that will improve their position.
Focus someone’s attention on what they don’t know . . . and ignorance isn’t going to be bliss, either!
Research . . . your referral to learn what would cause PAIN or offer GAIN
Appeal . . . to your referral’s self interest . . . based on what your research suggests
Wait . . . for a response from your referral . . . it will happen if you’ve done the above correctly
You’re Invited . . .
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Granted, the title sounds a bit naughty, doesn’t it? But it’s true!
The prestigious Harvard Business Review recently published an article that validates this is, in fact, true.
This particular article originated from a 2006 study in which the researchers demonstrated a direct connection between moral purity and physical purity. It’s actually called The Macbeth Effect.
In the rather gory Shakespearean play, Macbeth . . . Lady Macbeth literally has ‘blood on her hands’ and indulges in incessant hand-washing as a result.
Lady Macbeth’s famous line, “Out, out…spot” wasn’t referring to the dog who wanted to go out to do his business. It was actually the blood on her hands from the intrigues of the play that prompted that line. But, I digress . . . 🙂
Why Business Networking Makes You Feel Dirty
Believing that moral lapses lead to physical feelings of being impure or ‘dirty’, these brave social scientists set out to test their hypothesis that when you engage in business networking — it evokes feelings of being non-authentic (ergo ‘dirty’) more often and more intensely than if you engage in social networking with your friends.
I won’t bore you with their marvelous methodology, but . . . they proved their hypothesis!
There IS a correlation between engaging in business networking that produces feelings of being ‘unclean’ that social networking doesn’t generate. Which, is why we sometime hear someone say, “I need to take a shower after going to a networking event”. In many ways, they’re not kidding!
Networking Isn’t The Problem, It’s Your Motivation For Doing It
The research study didn’t just reveal that many people feel, well . . . ‘dirty’ when they network for business, they revealed an important insight into why!
One of the groups examined in this study was lawyers. (Please, no jokes).
The researchers looked at how senior partners vs. newer associates in a law firm felt after engaging in business networking. They found senior partners felt LESS ‘dirty’ as a result of networking activity than the newer associates felt after doing the very same thing.
It’s About Value . . . Who’s Got It and Who Needs It
The conclusion of the study was that business networking is an activity that does not, by itself, make anyone feel dirty. But the degree of self-interest being exhibited by someone in a networking exchange was far more likely to determine if they felt dirty or not.
Think about it. The partners were going into a networking exchange with (usually) more value than their junior associates. In their case, value meant these partners were bringing substantial resources into a networking exchange — their extensive network of connections, access to resources of all kinds, etc. was much greater than what a junior legal associate might bring into a networking exchange.
Are You a ‘Giver’ or a ‘Taker’?
On the other hand, a newer associate has relatively less power to bring into a networking exchange and a lot of reason to seek to take something valuable out of it — can you help me find a good position, can you mentor me in the firm, can you tell me who are the players in town, etc. These newer legal associates bring more need than power into a networking exchange and, that generates feelings that make them feel ‘needy’ and that’s not a good feeling to have. Neither is feeling dirty. See the connection?
“Is This About Me or . . . About You?”
The study concluded that you’re LESS likely to feel dirty from business networking IF:
1) you believe you have valuable ‘resources’ — contacts, information, etc. — to offer, and
2) you seek to give value to others more than you seek to gain value for yourself
That makes a lot of sense, doesn’t it?
Take an extreme situation. Let’s say you’re playing ‘Santa Claus’ for a kid’s holiday party. Everybody’s going to love you. So why would your role as the great benefactor (Santa) and the ‘resources’ you bring (presents) make you feel badly or, ‘dirty’ in any way? Answer: it wouldn’t be possible!
Now take a different but equally ‘extreme’ situation. You’ve lost your job. You haven’t been able to find another. You’re low on funds. You’re feeling depressed, hungry and getting a little desperate, too. You hear about a Community Christmas party sponsored by The Salvation Army. There will be food and gifts for the homeless and unemployed.
You never saw yourself ever attending an event like this when you were working but, this year, things have changed. Drastically. You decide to attend. Reluctantly.
So why are you attending? Are you planning to give anything to anyone. Nope. Your motivation is to take value for yourself.
Nothing wrong with that. Especially if you’re going through a difficult time in your life. But that also changes your mental framework of the ‘exchange’ event from one where your motivation is to give . . . to one where your motivation is to take . . . value away from the exchange.
The BIG Takeaways!
Networking is a Contact Sport
If you want to network effectively, you have to go and show up. Networking is, by definition, a ‘contact’ sport. Like the lottery commercials say, “You can’t win if you don’t play”.
If you don’t view networking in a positive light, you’ll find all kinds of reasons not to do it. And, if you don’t do it (or, rarely), you won’t develop this important business building skill.
An attitude that empowers you to network with others comes when you see yourself as:
1) bringing great value to others in every exchange you have with people, and
2) seeking to give your value to others more than you seek gain for yourself
BNI’s Ivan Meisner had it right long ago – “Givers Gain”. Now you know why!
Life is a Party . . . And You’re The Host
My mother was very successful in real estate. Her career spanned 42 years. She threw a lot of parties over the years. Invariably, she would greet a guest when they arrived and say, “I’m so glad you’re here. Come with me . . . I have someone I want you to meet”. Mom was connector. She was always adding value to other people in her own inimitable way.
One day I asked her the secret for her success. She said, “Billy, life is a party. You’re the host. You’re responsible for making everyone feel good for attending your party. Do that and you’ll be successful.” And that’s why I use the phrase, “I want to be a party to your party”. Life’s good. Networking makes it even better. Seeking to serve others ultimately serves you, too.
You’re The HOST — it’s your party to share your value with with your guests.
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Yesterday, I had the pleasure to be invited to do an ‘Ask The Experts’ call with Colleen Ferrary, President of Small Business USA. Colleen and her organization are dedicated to helping small business owners access resources that help them succeed.
On our call, we discussed a number of factors that both enable and dis-able the ability of a small business owner or solo-practitioner to be effective in their marketing. I thought it would be timely and useful to share some of the highlights of our call with you, today.
We began by talking about the role and definition of marketing. While there are various ways to define this essential business growth function, I said I like one that’s fairly simple:
“Marketing is a business function that reflects the decisions you make and actions you take, over time, to increase the quantity and improve the quality of opportunities where a sale can be made”
Marketing effectively, means you’ll be coming into contact with people who can best understand, value, desire and afford the beneficial difference you can create in their life on a predictable and regular basis. And that spells S-U-C-C-E-S-S.
The Challenges You Face
Typically, if you’re a small business owner or sole-practitioner, marketing is a challenge. Why? Because it sucks . . . resources away from other activities in your business where you’d prefer to use them. Notably, there are four (4) factors that limit your ability to market your business, your products and your services as effectively as you’d like:
You have all the time in the world. 24 hours per day. So a lack of time isn’t the problem. OK, what is? Making choices on how to use your time that doesn’t help you your marketing, effectively or efficiently. Too often, I see people who make bad choices on how to invest their time on marketing as well as other areas of their life. Making better choices seems easy enough. Until you realize there is an emotional payoff for the choices we make. Yes, including the ‘bad’ ones. Reframing the importance of marketing can help. But this is a real issue.
Business people often lament, “I can’t afford to spend money on marketing”. Really? Tell me, “Can you really afford not to market your business or practice?” Unless you’re absolutely without a source of funds for marketing, this is not a good mantra. Said often enough, you may actually believe it! My suggestion . . . get in touch with WHY you want to market — the consequential benefits it will produce — and you’ll reframe this issue in a totally different and far more productive way.
This is probably one of the few legitimate reasons why people don’t market effectively. You need to have an aptitude for marketing. Not everyone does. Maybe not even you. But even if you have it, you need time to invest in learning how to do it effectively. For these two reasons alone, having the requisite skill to do your own marketing isn’t something that’s safe to assume is always likely to happen.
If you’re a solo-practitioner, you have a number ‘hats’ to wear. For that same reason, you will be most challenged by this factor. You know the meaning of the saying, “If it’s going to be, it’s up to ME!”. Your nemesis is, more than anything, time. More precisely, it’s all the demands you have to do everything you must in the 24 hours a day you have to do it. If you lack the skills to do your marketing, then you’re really in a tough spot to get your marketing done effectively and efficiently. If you lack both time and skill . . . get someone else to do your marketing activities for you . . . or, suffer the consequences.
If you have staff, they may be just as challenged to do your marketing –– for the reasons cited above. First, they must have skills to market your business, products and services. Second, they must have the time — in addition to what you’re already asking them to do — to do marketing on top of everything else. Regardless of what your employees’ challenge may be, something has to give and usually, it’s not something you’ll like.
A Solution You May Like
If you’re a big company with lots of money (a sure-fire way to buy someone else’s TIME!) and staff (some of whom have some aptitude for marketing), then this won’t be of interest to you.
BUT . . . if you’re a time-starved solopreneur or self-employed advisor / planner / professional . . . this may be the best way to do marketing –– for you –– that is not only simple and effective but affordable and sustainable, as well. (How cool is that!)
Say “Hello” to PAM — Personally Assisted Marketing
‘PAM’ is a marketing service that’s designed for you if you lack the time and possibly the skills you need to do your own marketing.
Because PAM is affordable, you don’t need to invest a lot of money to see meaningful and measurable results. In fact, your marketing budget, large or small, is capable of generating a really nice ROI for you . . . in the hands of ‘PAM’.
How It Works
The power of PAM comes from a series of ‘touches’ . . . contacts made with people who are your prospects, clients and centers-of-influence. Most of these are done FOR you . . . by a VMA (Virtual Marketing Assistant) who is assigned to handle your marketing.
We’ve learned the #1 reason smaller firms, consultants and advisors find marketing so frustrating is that they’re trying to do it themselves. Not good!
That’s why you want someone else — your VMA — to do most of the ‘heavy lifting’ your marketing requires. This allows you to respond to marketing that puts people, with a PAIN or a PREFERRAL into contact with you on a regular basis. That is ‘all good’ for your bottom-line!
The Eight (8) Touches PAM Makes For You
Since most of your clients are buying a relationship with you, PAM focuses on creating ‘touches’ that are personally meaningful to the people you’re cultivating for the lifetime value they offer you . . . either in the form of revenues and/or referrals. These include:
PAM sends these to people who want to hear from you — i.e. 100% opt-in. These emails are short, interesting and can be scanned in no more than 7 seconds. We feature your photo and contact information prominently on each one.
PAM also does all the ‘work’ involved in creating these emails. From researching, writing, releasing and reporting on what your people do after they receive them. All you need to do is invite people to receive them from you. PAM . . . does everything else!
This keeps you top-of-mind with people who can, sooner or later, buy from you or refer you to others who can. They’re also designed to get people to ‘raise their hands’ and let you know they’d like to learn more about specific products or services you offer. Sweet!
Once a quarter, your VMA will make a ‘courtesy call’ to each person you’re cultivating. The goal for each of these calls is to do three (3) things:
1. remind them that you are thinking about them . . . in a fiduciary way . . . to ensure they’re doing well
2. learn if they have a need that someone (an ‘Expert’) in your network may be able to help them address
3. invite them to request a call or arrange a meeting with you, if they wish, to discuss a matter of importance . . . to them
Do you get a periodic call from the office of your doctor, dentist, accountant, coach, auto mechanic, remodeling contractor, etc. Few do. But the impression it makes — and the perception of ‘preference’ it generates — for you when you do this is . . . ‘priceless’.
Meet ‘N Greet Lunches
One of the best ways to reconnect with people who are ‘key’ to your practice or business — prospects, clients and centers-of-influence — is by breaking bread together. Once or twice a month, PAM arranges for you to meet with 2 – 3 other people you’re actively cultivating.
You have to eat anyway, why not use the opportunity to strengthen relationships, introduce people who know you to one another. In the process, you’ll discover needs and opportunities you can address. Plus, ‘PAM’ takes care of everything — from contacting the restaurant (or, ordering the food to be delivered to you office), inviting and confirming the ‘guests’ and following-up afterwards.
Thinking of You Emails
Periodically, PAM will send a brief email to people you’re cultivating with one or two sentences. Something like, “Dear Mike — I saw this post on Linkedin and thought you’d find it of interest. Hope all’s well with you and yours. Sincerely, Christine”
Sending these thought-full emails to your ‘special’ people on topics you know (and, tell PAM!) are important to them will make YOU far more valuable to them, as well. Guaranteed!
Preferral Exchange Meetings
You know there are certain people in your business circles who have referred people to you in the past and likely would do so again in the future, right? Well, do you plan to reconnect with them on a regular basis? If not, PAM can help make that happen.
Once or twice a month — you choose — PAM will arrange for you to meet with people who are likely to introduce you to new people who are likely to understand, value, desire and afford your problem-solving services. Of course, fair’s fair and this is an excellent opportunity for you to return the favor.
But the bottom-line is that, by doing this consistently and conscientiously, you’ll be regularly generating new people to talk with because of the influence and prestige of someone else who’s already established a ‘trusted advisor’ relationship with them. Kind of makes your work a lot easier, doesn’t it?
Introductions to Your Experts
As PAM connects with your people each month, ‘needs’ will be learned and shared with you. Many of these will not be needs for something you do. But other people you know will be able to help. When that’s the case, PAM will help you make an introduction of your contact and your expert. This tends to delight three (3) people.
Your contact is delighted because you’ve helped them to identify and meet with someone they can trust — because they trust you, yes? Your Expert is delighted because you’ve helped them to meet with a prospective client they might other never have known about. And then there’s you. You now have two (count’m 2!) more people in the world whose opinion of you has gone up a few points. That’s called goodwill. And goodwill turns into more revenues and referrals!
Staying-in-touch and top-of-mind with your key people is an important thing to do. And, do regularly. That’s why an item-of-value is so important. This ‘touch’ needn’t be expensive. But, it must be thoughtful. It’s a tangible experience that reminds someone you’re cultivating that, “You’re important to me”.
These items are usually very simple, inexpensive and have a high utility value. One of the more creative clients we’ve had the privilege to work with uses a solid milk-chocolate bar that shows their practice’s name and logo. It doesn’t last long (DUH!), but the feeling it creates for our client and their firm is . . . priceless!
Each month, PAM will remind you of certain individuals who should receive a handwritten note from you. These are (mercifully) brief. Why? It’s not the message you write. It’s the message you’re sending to someone you’re cultivating — “You’re important to me”.
The reason notes work so well is that in a high-tech world where it’s so easy to ‘like’ someone’s page on Facebook or ‘follow’ someone on Twitter, you have to give your personal attention and time to write a note and (snail) mail it to someone. What your effort communicates, more than any words you may write on the card, is that the recipient is someone you regard, respect and value. Get your people feeling that feeling on a regular basis and you won’t worry about any alleged competitors!
The Power of PAM: Synergy
As good as each of these ‘touches’ may be, the real power of the PAM service doesn’t come from using any one of them. It comes from the synergy of combining all of them into a coherent and coordinated plan of action that is carried out consistently and diligently.
Your PAM plan is uniquely tailored to your needs and resources
For example, you may not want to have two Meet ‘N Greet lunches every month. OK, just do one. Or, you prefer your item of value to be a white paper — rather than a keychain calculator. That’s fine. You have a lot of latitude and options.
Regardless of your choices, just be sure the type and frequency of the PAM ‘touches’ your plan calls for are done consistently. That’s why we assign a Virtual Marketing Assistant to you . . . to help you make sure your marketing activities happen “according to plan”.
Don’t Let Limiting Factors Hold Back Your Marketing and Your Success! Get PAM working . . . for you!
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Learn More About PAM — Personally Assisted Marketing
Complete the form below. Mention ‘PAM’ in the comment box.
We’ll be in touch to discuss how it works and, more importantly, how it may be able to do what your previous marketing efforts haven’t done as well as you wanted.
Here’s a dirty little secret hiding in plain sight . . . everyone can’t (or, won’t) connect you to people in their circles who can buy what you do and/or refer you to others who can.
I know. It’s not easy to accept, is it? After all, you want to believe that everyone and anyone not only CAN help you connect with qualified prospects, but they WILL do so. Happily and readily.
RINGGG!! RINGGG!! Wake- up call! That’s not the way it is.
The Right Person Makes Referrals More Likely!
When you take the time and make the effort to identify, approach and gain the commitment of the right kind of person, you will see a number of benefits:
1. You’ll generate more introductions and receive better referrals
2. You’ll grow your base of connections quickly and easily
3. You’ll meet quality people who don’t waste your time
4. You’ll enjoy a consistent flow of introductions and referrals
5. You’ll close business sooner rather than later
I could on (and, on) but I think you get the basic idea. Having the right kind of person to work with will help you generate more business, more quickly and far more easily than if you don’t. It’s that simple.
Want To Meet More People, By Referral?
One key to generating more referrals than you can handle (a problem you’d love to have, right!) is to work ONLY with people and partners who can help you make your goal of working primarily by referral . . . a reality.
This means you must seek introductions and referrals ONLY from someone who:
1. Respects you, professionally
2. Knows the kind of people you want to meet (i.e. fit your Preferral Profile)
3. Has potency with the people you want to meet from their network
4. Will introduce you to these people — if approached properly
In addition, the kind of person you want as a Connection or Preferral Partner must also:
5. Offer a complementary, non-competitive service to the same target market/s you are
6. Be able to receive introductions to people you know who fit their Preferral Profile
7. Be actively seeking to grow their practice . . . i.e. they’re not ‘gliding into retirement’
Of course, the absolutely-you-can’t-do-jack-without-it factor is :::drum roll::: TRUST.
Without trust, no one will introduce or refer you to their contacts because the RISK of losing their Relationship Capital is simply too great. So whatever else you do, establish trust, first.
Knowing who to avoid, makes it easier to identify people who can help you generate referrals
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Apple Computers and I Have a Relationship
I’m a big fan(atic) of Apple computers. I bought my first Mac — a little 128K model while working on a project as a consultant at LIMRA — in 1984. I finished the project so far ahead of schedule that I got a ‘bonus’ check. That check paid for my new ‘personal’ computer. I was hooked on Apple. Our ‘relationship’ has stood the test of some 30 years. Apple computers and I are a ‘thing’.
Recently, Apple rolled out it’s latest operating system version called ‘Yosemite’. It reflected a number of changes from prior O/S offerings. Some were very substantial. Many were, as expected, pretty cool.
One of the applications that comes with an Apple iOS is called, ‘Keynote’. This is Apple’s answer to PowerPoint. And, while both are good. I prefer to use Keynote. It’s elegance (and, my skill at using it) makes it my presentation software of choice.
Keynote . . . is a ‘Consequential Damage’ of Yosemite
Unfortunately, the new Keynote / Yosemite pairing has resulted in a major problem. For me.
Keynote’s got a bug that Apple created with the launch of its Yosemite operating system. Even worse, Apple seems unable and/or insouciant to address this problem.
I used to create Keynote ‘slideshows’, added audio (voice narration) and mixed both into an MP4 (movie) file I could upload, distribute, etc. NO MORE! Now, audio / voice-over recordings are mysteriously ‘dropped’ from an MP4 after about 45 seconds. WTH?
“Apple . . . We Have a Problem”
I called Apple’s tech people. They’re pretty top-notch in my experience. Unfortunately, I was told by the tech person I spoke with that the “dropped audio in Keynote” is a problem that Apple knew would happen, knows is happening and . . . is (currently) doing nothing to correct it. Seriously?
This is a big issue as it means a lot of time and effort will be required to produce a similar result — using non-Apple software I might add! This cuts into my profit-ability and adds a ‘hassle’ factor that’s growing by the moment.
I don’t know which is worse. Apple’s knowingly making changes that compromise what loyal fans have come to count on from their relationship with Apple, or . . . Apple’s apparent dismissal of client concerns once they’re voiced. Either way, it’s not going to build trust between Apple and it’s community of fans. Quite the opposite.
Without the ability to do what has been done for many years, life is changing. And, not for the better. Thank you, Apple, Inc. I wonder what Steve Jobs would have to say about this egregious insult to the long-standing expectations of loyal fans . . . like me?
What’s Important to Learn From All This
Any relationship of value . . . and I believe a ‘client’ relationship qualifies for this . . . must be regarded as a fiduciary relationship. If you’re holding yourself out as a ‘trusted’ advisor, it means you’re worthy of your client’s trust, right?
The problem is, ‘trust’ is a fragile thing. It’s a challenge to establish it with a new relationship. It’s also a challenge to maintain it once you have it with an existing relationship. Trust . . . is the ‘glue’ that binds a client to you and you to a client. But like any bond, it can be broken. To the detriment of all parties involved.
Trust . . . is hard to earn, and so easy to lose. Work hard to get it. Even harder to keep it!
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What’s Your TRUST FACTOR?
People who know and like you are likely to trust you. Trust is evidence you have relationships that allow access to the contact networks of others and that allows you to generate referrals for your business. And, as you know, more referrals = more revenues, profits and owner equity.
Why is TRUST Important?
To build business, you want referrals. The more people who allow you to leverage their TRUST of you, through their endorsement of you to their network contacts, the more referrals you’ll see from it.
Why Relationships Matter
Consider this . . . the average person has a contact network or sphere of influence with 200 people — more or less. So building a solid relationship with people whose contacts are most likely to 1) understand, 2) value, 3) desire and 4) afford what you do, the more opportunities for referrals you’ll be generating.
One of the types of relationships you’ll want to establish and maintain is with someone who satisfies the following characteristics:
1. they are highly regarded and trusted by people in their contact network
2. they know or have clients who look like your ‘best clients,
3. they know, like and trust you . . . i.e. ‘raving fan’ material, and,
4. they are willing to introduce you to select members of their network
If you will build a strong relationship with 25 people who serve the same kind of client as you do — with complementary vs. competitive services or products — then you should be seeing both referrals (inbound leads from receptive individuals) and Preferrals (outbound introductions to qualified individuals).
The numbers of Reality
Let’s say you have 25 Strategic Alliances. On a quarterly basis, that means you could be meeting (I prefer lunch) with 2 of your alliances each week. Now, because they already know, like and trust you AND you’ve been able to give as well as receive . . . they’re coming to lunch with the full understanding that this is a time to exchange introductions to people in their network who share characteristics in common with people who are your ‘Ideal Client’ and you’re coming to lunch to do the same thing for them.
Assume you manage to collect, on average, 5 names of people who may, sooner or later, be likely to need the services (and, outcomes!) you offer. That’s ten (10) preferred introductions (Preferrals) a week . . . 40 or so a month. So what happens when you follow up?
Roughly 1/3 will say something that means there’s no future — e.g. “Oh, did I tell you my wife is a CPA and does all our tax work?”. See, it’s over before it gets going.
Another 1/3 will express interest in what you do but have no current need for it. If they invite you to ‘stay in touch’, you have a ‘future opportunity’ you can cultivate, over time, until one of either ‘coughs up’ or ‘gives up’.
Finally, 1/3 will be interested and receptive to some kind of immediate ‘next step’ . . . a meeting to get better acquainted, an agreement to take your online survey and schedule a debriefing call or meeting, etc.
The REAL Payoff — “Life Gets Much Better!”
Over time, as you build up your database of people who share characteristics in common with your best clients, and they invite you to keep-in-touch so you can stay-in-mind should they or someone they know ever need the service/s you provide, roughly 1/3 of the people you’re cultivating . . . will come ‘up’ each month . . . for a recall to requalify to remain in your Client Cultivation System, or ‘CCS’
Say you have just 240 qualified prospects in your CCS. That means that about 80 people are due, each month, for a ‘touch base’ call. Now, because they already know you, it’s not a ‘cold call’. As they’ve invited you to stay in touch, it’s a call with ‘permission’ — so you’re not intruding. And, assuming they were qualified to be cultivated in the first place, with each subsequent call, they (or, someone they know!) are getting closer to the time when they’ll need someone who does what you do.
It’s called ‘CULTIVATION’ for a reason — just as a farmer keeps the weeds away, the insects at bay and makes the water plentiful, so too must you, as a service provider, offer the ‘gentle care and feeding’ of the relationship known as ‘client’. And if someone is not (yet) your client, keeping-in-touch on a regular basis and in a client-centric manner is one of the best ways to ‘harvest’ the seeds of success you’ve planted in the past. It’s also a proven strategy to both differentiate yourself from others in your field, and build up client loyalty to you and your brand.
Relationships matter. Cultivating relationships for both current and future revenue opportunities is a wise strategy to make your business or practice generate clients (and, the revenues they suggest!) consistently and efficiently.