I think most technology is great, I really do. Our agency is laser-focused on creating emerging experiences for big brands like Nike, Air Jordan, VH1, Delta, History Channel and more. And while I think most of the stuff we do is absolutely killer and I’m thrilled to be part of it, there are certain aspects of my job that don’t require any technology at all. In fact, I think most of the principles of a new biz position will never fully be replaced by technology and it’s something I wanted to touch upon.
Just about every single company has someone in biz dev/new biz and they are unmistakably the ‘Rainmakers.’ They are the crazy networkers, opportunists, never-take-no for an answer type people. It doesn’t matter if it’s the year 200, 800, 1500 or 2015, the one identifying trait of a new biz person has and always will be the ability to be a great communicator. Not only in speaking, but listening. You know, like those people who not only have the high emotional intelligence to the point where they almost can read minds, but those who notice what you’re body is saying when you’re not saying anything. I’m sure you know a few of these people; the uncanny, create your own luck, calculated risk-taker yet dedicated 21st century networker who can multi-task with a smile on their face type person.
I am convinced these type of people make the world turn and am happy to have learned from a few.
With that being said, I wanted to touch upon a few things I’ve noticed throughout my first couple years in business development that happen to ring through a number of various industries. As we’ve just gone over, there are many crucial aspects to being in business development, but there have been seven strategies which have remained constant to me in my career thus far and I want to share them with you as a thought-starter.
There of course may be more points, or tactics that also ring true, but I’ve come to feel very strong and particular about these seven in my career thus far.
I’d encourage you to leave other strategies, thoughts and tactics in the comments below.
Here we go:
1) People like to do business with people they know.
This is nothing new, but extremely important. I don’t think this will ever change either. Keep close relationships with people on all different rungs of the ladder. You never know when you’ll have the chance to help them, or vice versa. Familiarity and being top of mind are always an advantage in whatever industry you’re in. Also, avoid burning any bridges, it may be detrimental to you down the road.
2) Believe in yourself and your companies offerings.
To be able to sell anything (creative services, product packages, software, other commodities) you’ve got to trust your personality and who you are. If you don’t convey a sense of purpose and confidence in who you are, your company’s image will suffer inadvertently. That being said, you’ve got to have faith in the process of your company, not matter the size and what it can offer to the world. Have pride in yourself and the company you represent for the ultimate benefit of the party you’re aiming at, period.
3) Maintain the network – always.
This is the most crucial element of biz dev and I can’t say it enough. Maintain a strong network. Spread the love socially, or in-person as often as you can. Don’t make 100% of your communication about business. Sometimes simply catching up or asking, ‘What’s new?’ is all you need to spark a new business deal. Congratulate people when they switch companies and reach out to stay top of mind (if it’s relevant) and in general be a great conversationalist. Ask lots of questions and try to be a connector to different parts of your network that may not know each other. All of this is crucial and leaving a positive lasting impact on people is the best thing you can do for yourself and the company you represent.
4) Relationships are a two way street.
Whether it’s a new business proposition, a potential partnership or a first impression I always shudder when people don’t make a presentation or conversation a two way street. The same goes for lasting relationships in the business world. Spread and encourage the communication around, especially in meetings. People don’t like to sit there and be lectured. Be a source of information for others and allow them to be a source of information for you. Ask questions and forge new paths to different ideas, avoid making it all about you or your company. Sometimes asking a person what you can do for them goes a long way in today’s world and a key to building your network is to be a problem-solver for others.
5) Being punctual and keeping your word are vital.
At the end of the day, your word is all you’ve got and keeping it in both the business world and personally make you an extremely valuable ally (and friend) to have. Before giving someone a ‘Yes’ it’s extremely profound to weigh your availability vs. the ask of a potential favor. Everyone likes to hear a yes, but before giving it, make sure you can follow through 100%. The same goes for a B2B or B2C type deal. You’re actions as a person and for a company will speak volumes to potential partners and clients alike. By being on time, not making excuses or overselling yourself, your words and opinions will carry that much more weight. Swift decision making is paramount to being fluid as a person and company. Nobody wants to waste anyone else’s time, so be honest and on time, all the time.
6) Timing is everything.
It really is. Some people say there is no such thing as luck, but ask a business development person that and they will probably tell you otherwise. I know I’ve gotten lucky a few times, but by combining the other tips I’ve listed here, you’ll be able to rely a little bit less on luck and focus on bettering yourself and the business you represent. That being said, yes, timing is everything. Don’t be late for meetings (also don’t be too early) and know when to reach out blindly for a potential prospect. (Hint: Maybe avoid early on Mondays and late on Fridays). People appreciate punctuality above all. Being somewhere when you say you will is a hard thing to do in today’s world, but if a powerful example of reliability for a person and company. But in the world of Uber, Lyfts, Fasten and a whole lotta traffic, it’s always best to plan ahead and not get caught with setting up your presentation in front of the CMO, or to be late for that Go-To-Meeting.
7) You reap what you sow.
Also another obvious one, but vital to your career and business you represent. As kids, we’re told not to judge and be polite, but even as adults, we’ve continued the trend of keeping first impressions and recognizing a company through the employees we know there (among their social feeds too). So every little thing you do, whether it’s nasty gossip, a questionable social post, spelling error on an important email, pat on the back after an incredible presentation, act of encouragement or a very opinionated twitter account, it all boils down into what you’re setting yourself up for down the road. I’m not saying you need to be on the straight and narrow 100% of the time, but being in business development and at the front of the company, it’s imperative to walk the walk and talk the talk that is in line with the company. It will pay dividends down the road.
Lasting thoughts…a powerful network will be your best ally, not only for yourself, but also for your company. The richest people in the world look for and build networks, everyone else looks for work. Marinate on that for a minute.
Have any other questions, comments or suggestions? I’d love to hear your thoughts below in the comments or by dropping me a line via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.