Using networking to grow your business is about combining logic and magic. I spoke with Adam Smith, managing director of Buzzword Creative to uncover the blend of science and art that he and his team use, an approach that has lead to the growth of their business. It turns out to be a blend that gives them plenty to do when they’re not actively engaged with their clients and that puts them in a good place to be engaged later on.
Let’s look at the magic first, the key behaviours involved, why they work and what to do to assess where you are.
“We think about our clients as people”
They remember information about their clients, crucially, not just the work stuff. They take an interest in what is going on in their lives. They are alert to any information that reveals something about their client as a person. When it’s appropriate, they can drop that information into conversation. This helps to build rapport and sustain the relationships between projects. They extend this social behaviour and turn it into an aspect of doing business with them. It makes the suggestion of a coffee or a quick meeting with a client, very easy and natural. Then they can scale up to inviting them to an event. All of this from paying attention to their clients as people. What do you know about your clients as people?
“We think about what might be missing for our clients”
This is stimulating for the team. Just because they are not engaged with a client, it doesn’t mean their brains switch off. Crucially the phrase is “…missing for our clients.” It’s not about them. They make it about their clients and down the line their clients want to discuss something with them. So start with what your clients might want, and this will lead to you getting your needs met. A win-win. How often do you ask, “What might our clients want……next?
“We create our own ‘care’ about our clients”
This is energising. They’re not waiting to be stirred, they are a self-stirring group of people. They are adaptable and able to generate their own interest in what their client’s doing and their business. This enthusiasm and interest in their clients is contagious. This takes work. What questions could you ask about your clients’ businesses to get curious about them?
“We speak to our clients”
Their rule is “if it can be done verbally, do it verbally. Then back it up with an email.” This means they are building personal relationships using the telephone and through meetings. All of their senses are stimulated and therefore alive to the feedback they are getting from the client. These encounters create the spontaneity that can lead to opportunity. This cannot be achieved using email. There just isn’t the sensory content available. But email is still useful as a way to confirm what was discussed and agreed. Take a look at your frequency of communication and what you’re communicating. What does your balance look like?
The science of their networking
“We know our numbers”
They know the numbers that matter in terms of managing their relationships. They know their total number of contacts. They know the percentage of those clients that have spent money recently. And they know what percentage of those they are in a constant relationship with. They know how often they speak with them. Do you know these numbers for your network?
“We make use of the numbers”
They have a list of what their clients spent last year compared with this year. And they understand this list. They know what percentage of the list are one off projects, what percentage are annual- one project a year, what percentage are sporadic and what percentage are regular clients. Do you know how your network looks in these areas?
“We create ‘pointers’ to focus effort”
They look at their list of clients by spend and then cross-reference this against who they have spoken to. This helps them focus their efforts in the right place. It helps them to identify gaps where they can apply some magic. This is motivational because it provides the reason to do something. What are your pointers saying to you?
The mix of logic and magic that Adam and his team create is the key to their successful networking. Focussing on either element on it’s own is not enough. All magic and you your effort relies on luck to pay off. All logic and you’ll have all the pie charts you can eat but no emotion or motivation to turn the information into action. The place to start your networking audit could be with a logic and magic assessment. What works for you in each area? How do they combine? What might you do differently to get a better result? What are you waiting for? Your next piece of work is right under your nose.