Everybody knows the importance to nurture your contacts and dream clients. But "share value" is useless advice if you don't know how to put it into practice.
I've put a mini thread on how every professional consultant should treat their network on twitter, but since many people ask for it I'm adding it here as well.
In sales, nurturing = creating value before asking for commitments.
When you do it, you're making deposits into the relationship. By sharing relevant ideas, you're making a difference for your dream clients whether or not they hire you.
Before starting, let's talk about frequency.
If you have a newsletter or podcast you already touch part of your network regularly. But I do not include them in my nurturing activities. They are excellent marketing initiatives to stay top of mind and build brand, but can't replace a conversation.
You have to reach out to contacts on a 1:1 basis. Opportunities are born out of conversations, and there's no better activity for trust building then an individual chat. Not only dream prospects, but every person in your core network.
This is what I recommend for each channel:
- Email: Send a personal email at least once a quarter.
- Phone: Call those prospects at least 2x per year. Only nurture by phone those you've already met or had a call with.
- In person: The best way to do it, but it's time consuming. If you have the opportunity to go for a coffee do it, but there's no need to obsess with it.
Assuming you do this consistently, here are the 3 most important elements of nurturing:
- Being prospect-oriented: Focus on their preferences, goals and challenges.
- Increase intimacy/likability: Few do business with those they don't like.
- Build credibility: Share value, show expertise.
To prove you're a value creator, make a list of ideas and tools you can share:
- Do you have research about your industry, or your client's industry, that can help them make positive changes in their business?
- Does your experience allow you to offer some unique insights worth sharing?
You want this content to be as practical as possible. Prepare and present it. If you are serving a clear niche (you should be) your presentation will be relevant to many of your prospects and don't need to be completely unique - coming up with 2-3 pieces once a quarter shouldn't be a problem.
There are also easier and faster ways to stay top-of-mind:
- Send an article: Needs to be specifically relevant for them, or related to a challenge or recent news they've previously shared with you.
- Send a book: Great way to delight clients and collaborators, but also to nurture important contacts. If you include your notes, that's even better.
- Make an introduction: That's a great way to nurture 2 people on your network at the same time. Make sure to get their ok before putting both in touch.
With that said, who said you need to "share value" every time you touch base? Sometimes showing you care is all it takes. Send a quick note like, "Just checking in. How's everything going?"
Remember that, as a consultant, your network is your biggest asset. Professionals take the time to nurture it. Put relationships first, and the rest will follow.