Strategy and Focus
Yesterday I was working with a serious professional on how to use the Internet to grow his national business. He had sent me a list of questions about strategy, productivity, time management, SEO and directories, how to use Twitter, how to write stronger headlines, and how to follow Chris Brogan’s advice from the SOBCon2010 webinar that online business should concentrate on finding revenue. We looked at his blog for a few moments and talked about what makes a compelling blog post.
Strategy and new business is all focus and knowing the cold truth.
6 Cold Truths about Building New Business
My business client said some thing like,
“I’m having so much fun figuring out Twitter. It’s hard to know that I’m doing the right things with my time.” I suggested he Google, “I’m addicted to Twitter” to see that he’s not alone.
Part of the Internet addiction is the lovely relationships and community that it brings to us. Keeping that going can be very alluring, even when it takes our time and focus away things that might be earning. Managing time and ourselves as we build and manage our relationships is crucial to surviving and thriving as a business.
Until you know and feel your focus as an Internet citizen, review these these cold truths often.
- Perceived productivity won’t move you forward. Tweaking a blog, updating a status, and talking on Twitter can all be useful business actions. But stop often to make sure what you’re doing is on the path to getting new business and not work that doesn’t connect to it. Everyday I see folks who talk on Twitter only to their friends … as if some customers or clients will “discover” them. Just as often I guide folks who spend all of their time working their blogs, never meeting a potential client – kind of like someone who stays home forever, dressing up every night to go out, wondering why a date never shows.
- Your friends don’t owe you work. A wonderful and cherished ethic of the social web is “givers get.” It’s true, but don’t over-invest in it. It’s not about friends taking their time, their work, and their reputation to build your business for you. We start our work lives getting told what to do and it seems natural to go to our friends and say “put me to work for you.” But a simple “what can I do to help you?” puts the work of finding your strengths, carving out a role, and figuring out how you might fit into their business on them. That’s asking more than most folks have time to do.
- An idea is not an offer. Have you noticed that ideas are everywhere, but people who execute on their ideas are fairly rare? If you want to work with someone, go beyond the idea to a plan that shows at least in broad brush strokes how the idea would roll out. Be able to explain the benefits, the timing, and the budget. Even if the client you approach can’t buy in, he or she will be able to tell you more specific reasons. You can tweak the plan and have something tangible to present to the next one.
- Most new business is outside your current network. It’s fun to hang on Twitter and talk about business with our colleagues. It’s also easy. We already know where to who’s there and how to start the conversation. But new clients and customers are usually not the people in our existing networks. Move into circles and networks that don’t know you or what you offer.
- Negotiation is never about your goals. Align your goals for funding revenue with the goals of the folks you want to buy in. If you can sit on the same side of the table and show how doing what you want will make them a hero while it also makes their jobs easier, smarter, and more meaningful, then you’ll get the attention you’re looking for.
- You can’t stay offline. You can’t stay online. Growing businesses are learning that a seamless existence of multiple channels that reach out to clients and customers. Telephone and email are still great social tools and many deals still need to get sealed in person. Don’t make the mistake of thinking the tools determine your strategy. Your customers and the worlds they habit do.
As the recession eases, you might notice that we’re hearing less and less about following links and “shiny objects.” Businesses are realizing that time well invested on the Internet can reap huge benefits.
What other cold truths do we need to know about building new business? Bet you know one I’ve missed.
–ME “Liz” Strauss
Work with Liz on your business!!