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December 9, 2020

COVID-19 Networking: Focus on Existing Clients

Many professionals think there is a “secret” to bringing in clients and developing business. In the pre-COVID-19 days, many of us subscribed to the school of random networking. We’d go to an event or cocktail party, pass out business cards, and report to our supervisors that we networked. Did it work? Probably not. And how the heck do you network during a pandemic?

Like everything, COVID-19 has changed our business practices. How do you develop business when you can no longer attend networking events or conferences? It’s simple. You need to connect with your existing clients. Your existing clients are “low-hanging fruit.” They’ve already selected you as their vendor or service provider. Now is the time to grow and develop that relationship even further. Here are things you can do:

  1. Pick up the phone. Ask them how things are going. What they are doing for the holidays. How their family is. Yes—a phone call. Not an email or text. An old-fashioned call. That 10-minute check-in will be memorable and continue to build the relationship.
  2. Send a card. A hand-written quick sentiment wishing them a good day, a happy Thanksgiving, a happy holiday season. Do you remember the last time someone sent you a card in the mail? No one does that anymore!
  3. Send a small gift. A $10 Tim Hortons’s gift card goes a long way! People love coffee and donuts. A thoughtful gesture is always appreciated.

The gist here is to stay in front of your client, show them you care, and remind them that you’re not only a great professional, but a thoughtful person. Clients will never forget how you treat them. And existing clients can become your greatest salespeople.

How does this translate into business development? It’s simple. A happy client is your best sales agent. When you have a strong relationship with your clients, they will tell their friends, family, and business associates about you. How you’re kind and thoughtful. How you go the extra mile.

Not convinced it’s worth the effort? Take it one step further, and make the dreaded “ask.” The ask is simple and easy. Contact your best clients, and ask if they are willing to introduce you to anyone who may need your help or services. Will this result in immediate business? Probably not. But I guarantee you will be top of mind for your client, and she will make an introduction to someone who can either benefit from your services or needs a speaker at a conference or article written. The client will plant seeds that will ultimately grow your business and practice.

COVID-19 has complicated many things but has also forced us to return to the basics. We’ve started baking again. Doing puzzles. Watching more movies. It’s time to brush the dust off your phone, make a call or two, and plant some seeds for new clients and business relationships.

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