I had a long conversation recently with a managing partner of a mid-tier law firm. In our conversation he lamented the fact he was struggling to get some of his partners to embrace the fact that client’s buying habits had now changed. The problem was that many of his partners had previously been very successful at business development using old-school marketing techniques. These marketing activities tended to involve corporate entertainment, networking in the right places, and keeping close to a network of professional intermediaries. Whilst these ways still work, they just don’t work as well as they used to. Unfortunately, these partners and very often the people who are responsible for training future partners on business development skills, haven’t moved with the time.
Do you actually need a well-stocked little black book?
Nearly five years ago, I set up my own business. As I look back I realise that by anyone’s yardstick, I’ve achieved a huge amount. However, what has really helped me really progress, is not the relationships I’ve had around me, it’s been my investment in social media. You could say that social media helped me quickly find the right relationships.
Everything that has been good in the last five years can be linked back to a tweet, LinkedIn connection or blog post. This includes having 3 books published, meeting my business partner and close friend, Jon. In fact, this blog post is adapted from a guest blog for my good friend Matt Bird, author of Relationology, which was the result of a tweet – plus a huge amount of twists and turns later!
In fact, nearly everything I have achieved has been, initially, without the luxury of a well-stocked little black book. Before social media became a major business development tool, it was all about the contents of your little black book. If you knew enough of the right type of people you would never need to worry about where you next new piece of work was coming from. Consequently most professionals marketing activity consisted of turning up at the right events, having lunches with the right people and running the occasional seminar.
Your brand is more important than your relationships
That was then, and this is now. Yes, it is still all about relationships for the modern day networker. (And yes, my success has come through the many relationships I have started initially on social media…) However, the access which social media has given to buyers of professional services has meant far more choice than ever before. Consequently, buyers of professional services, will favour better expertise or specialization when considering who to hire. In fact, the FT effective client adviser report of 2012, showed that over 67% of buyers of professional services want to work with an adviser who has a deep understanding of their business and the marketplace in which they operate.
Therefore, before you step out the door to go to yet another networking event, spend some time using social media to strengthen your personal brand, and build your network wider than just the contents of your little black book. This will help you open more doors than just the contents of your little black book alone.