We all know the reason ICBC—the world’s largest company—hasn’t engaged you. Your Chinese vocabulary ends at “dim sum.” Plus, they’ve never heard of you. Other than that, I have no doubt ICBC executives would demand you provide them consulting services at an exorbitant fee.
But why aren’t you winning projects from all the divisions, departments and branches of your current clients? After all, that’s where your easiest prospects reside and you speak their language (presumably). To answer that, let’s turn to a centenarian’s birthday bash.
When my grandfather turned 100, the whole family got together for a party. Families do this. Someone gets old and the rest of us celebrate by eating. One of my aunts told me that while she mingled at the party a woman turned to her and queried, “Who are you? Are you someone I should know?” To which my aunt replied, “I should certainly hope so. We’ve been sisters-in-law for over 50 years.”
Clients are like family. And just like family, it’s surprisingly common to not know close relatives. Or, in this case, close colleagues. So, it turns out the reason you’re not getting more work from your current clients is the same reason you’re not getting work from ICBC. You don’t speak Chinese. They don’t know you. (Or like my aunt, they don’t remember/think of you, which is effectively the same as not being known.)
The Know Pillar* is, of course, the gateway to opportunity. The more you are known, the greater the pool of prospective clients who could call on you to solve their pressing problems. Hence, you publish, give speeches, connect on LinkedIn, and employ myriad other strategies to build your presence in the world.
The Law of Being Known applies equally to current clients. Perhaps even more, since winning follow-on business is typically much easier than securing engagements with new clients.
Many tried-and-true marketing practices adapt nicely once you’re inside an organization. Below are eight, particularly effective strategies for becoming more known inside current clients.
8 Strategies to Become Broadly KNOWN at Your Clients
1. Walk the Halls
You look at the name tags on all those offices you stroll by en route to your client’s digs, but you don’t know most of them, do you? Well, pop your head into a few offices and introduce yourself.
2. Invite Others into Your Current Projects
There is almost always a reason to expand your circle of internal contacts within a project. Additional insights, best practices, a fresh perspective. Even if your assessment is mainly based on data, there is always value in getting the qualitative insights and opinions of other executives.
3. Hold Workshops
Whether related to your current project or not, a workshop is an excellent venue for demonstrating value and an ideal opportunity to open the doors to a wider audience than those involved in your current engagement.
4. Hold Annual Vision Meetings
The vision meeting is a strategic discussion with top executives that grants ample opportunity to dazzle them with your provocative thinking and impressive IP. Meet new decision makers and reveal reasons to work together. Voila!
5. Conduct Research Inside the Client
For instance, the white paper you’re writing on the importance of polyglots at the executive level should include insights from every senior leader at your current clients, right? One nice aspect of research is it doesn’t have to be related to your current assignment—you can research any topic related to your area of expertise.
6. Leverage Your Network
In other words, ask for introductions. The G.M. of pickle products could introduce you to the G.M. of carpet cleaners. (Hope they don’t share R&D resources.)
7. Target Strategic Contacts
Once you identify high potential prospects inside your client organization, you can make a plan to reach them and become known. The first six techniques all come into play. For example, you can walk down the hall and introduce yourself or include their opinions in an assessment.
8. Take Your Time
Despite the impression that all these approaches give you the ability to become widely known in the blink of an eye, your goal is not simply to be known, it’s to build relationships. That means you spend time first with your current relationships and get to know them at a deeper level. It’s worth your time to build solid connections, not just new ones.
Text and images are © 2020 David A. Fields, all rights reserved.