If you are solely focused on your current projects and current clients, you are not going to succeed long-term.
This may seem counter-intuitive. Yes, it’s important to give your clients your attention (much of it in-fact). Everyone wants to feel like a priority, and giving good service means focusing on whom you are with and what you are doing. But good service doesn’t mean you can’t switch gears and go on to focus on something else next. And you need to have something else in your day besides your current clients.
Think about what happens when you want to expand your practice? Or what happens if some of your existing clients leave unexpectedly? How are you going to make new contacts if you’re not talking to anyone?
Who are you calling?
I don’t mean selling, I mean actually calling—engaging in conversations, learning new things, and exploring new ideas. I mean meeting new people and getting to know them.
Some of these new people will become clients someday. Others won’t. But maybe some of those who don’t become clients will becomes allies, mentors, protégés, or friends. You never know. What you do know is that if you don’t reach out, none of these connections are going to happen.
So, how, exactly, do you reach out?
In this day and age, a great first step is social media. That doesn’t mean just sending out a lot of tweets or following a lot of people, it means interacting. Ask questions, respond to articles, and join conversation threads. Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn each have slightly different mechanisms for doing all these things, but all three provide a non-threatening context where you can start conversations with people you don’t know yet. It’s a good idea to spend at least some time on all three (and others including Snapchat, yes Snapchat, and Instagram), since each tends to attract a slightly different group of people.
The next step is to make a list of people to follow up with, either by email or by phone. I suggest creating what I call a 3/3/3 list. That is, three people you think might become high-end clients, three potential volume clients, and three people you want to chat with for any reason, not just business. Then go down the list. The type of list or name of the list doesn’t matter—it’s that you have some sort of simple process for reaching out to new people.
As you make contact with each person and get into building some kind of relationship (or discovering that you can’t, for whatever reason), take that name off your list and add a new one. Always have a list of multiple people whom you’d like to connect with. Keep calling. Don’t stop.
The important thing to remember is you never know what’s going happen. The next call could lead to your next big client, a referral somewhere, or just a great conversation. Your job is to give these things the opportunity to happen by making the call.