There’s nothing more frustrating than learning that a prospect or client who knows you well has hired someone else for work that’s in your sweet spot. Or, you see a conference promotion where others are speaking about a topic about which you’re known to be an acknowledged expert. How does this happen?
In each case, being “known” proved insufficient. It’s always possible that the prospect or conference actively considered you and rejected you without even a conversation with you. Far more likely is that they didn’t remember you at the time they were considering solutions. To my chagrin, here are two examples of me doing just that.
Some years ago, a number of colleagues and I left a partnership at the same time. A few days later, one called me to say he was speaking with an insurance guy about an income-replacement policy in case of disability, and asked if I’d like to speak with him, too. I realized that this was definitely something I needed to do, and booked an appointment. The fellow was an adept questioner, and he caused me to recognize that there were a number of things I’d been meaning to do relative to financial planning, etc. The short version is that I made a sizable commitment for retirement investments, insurance, etc.
A few days later, thinking about the financial arrangements I’d made, I had a V-8 Moment. “OMG! Steve is in that business!” Who, you ask, was “Steve”? He’s longtime friend, with whom I played a lot of tennis, and with whom I’d had a beach house for a few years. How could I not have used Steve for this financial stuff? Simple. Steve didn’t come to mind in the context of disability- or retirement planning. Oh, sure, I knew Steve was in the insurance business, but nothing more specific than that. There was nothing that served as an associative trigger for Steve.
Just two months ago, it happened again. I was looking for a software development firm to build a new application for me. I had interviewed a few firms, two of which impressed me. Their estimates seemed really high in relation to what I perceived as the relative simplicity of what I had in mind. Fortunately for me, that slowed me enough to avoid a repeat of the Steve issue, but just barely. Once again, I had the V-8 Moment. “Wait! Joe’s firm does that!” Joe’s firm is the one that, after we built RainmakerVT, created all the APIs and other tools to connect it with e-commerce, online marketing, etc. They did great work, finished on time, were flexible when I ran into some snags, and were scrupulously honest. I liked them personally, and had thoroughly enjoyed working with them.
Why didn’t they immediately come to mind when it came time to build more software? Maybe it was as simple as “out of sight, out of mind.” It had been six years since our collaboration, and we’d been out of touch. They simply didn’t come to mind. We hadn’t been in contact and I didn’t remember them, at least at first. Had one of the other firms’ estimates been more palatable, I probably would have hired them and recreated the “Steve regret.”
This is an object lesson in the criticality of remaining in contact, if only to prevent simple forgetfulness from causing you to miss out on work that someone would prefer that you do -- if they thought of it. And I don’t mean randomly contacting someone when you happen to think about it, and sending the vacuous “let’s catch up” email. I’m talking about regularly and consistently communicating relevant information that is useful and potentially valuable to recipients, and that reinforces your position. No more “out of sight, out of mind” risk.
If you don’t already have one, create a communication channel that you control, that’s a vehicle for your thoughts, in your voice, delivered with the frequency that you chose. Create a blog, or a regular tip like this one. At the very least, create a robust LinkedIn profile, and post to it consistently. Join LinkedIn groups that are populated by the people who fit your optimal prospect profile and are likely to experience your demand-triggering Door-Opener problem. If you haven’t defined either of those critical factors, do that first.
Syndicate each of your posts to all those LinkedIn groups to extend your reach beyond your own subscribers and followers. (You can use tools like Social Oomph to make that easy.)
Don’t be the cause of V-8 Moments for those who want to work with you. Make it easy to remember you when it’s time for them to buy.