As Rainmakers, we have to make daily decisions about where to focus our energy. If you’re in the business of just selling work (as opposed to fulfilling client projects as well), it’s relatively easy to decide. But most of us are pulled in many directions with competing priorities. And while we all inherently deal with these things daily, sometimes it’s good to take a deeper look at where we are spending our time, money and energy.
I’ve had a few occasions lately to think about what the investment of these three valuable commodities means in terms of my business and my life. Here are some areas where making an investment can really pay off in building your sales pipeline:
Join and remain active in professional associations and groups
A large part of building your referral base is in networking with the right target market. First you have to find them, of course. But once you know who you want to building relationships with, you’ve got to get in the room with them. Oftentimes a component of that is joining professional associations related to your field, or the field of your target audience. For example, I’m a member of the National Association of Women Business Owners, the Accounting and Financial Women’s Alliance, and ProVisors, to name a few. I pay my annual dues to each of these organizations, and often pay additional amounts for events, dinner meetings, etc. Payment of those dues (the financial investment) is the basic entrance fee to get in the door. But the time spent attending events for each of those groups can add up as well. And the level of energy we bring to the party in terms of personal commitment can make a huge difference. Let’s say that a member pays the annual dues, attends the monthly meetings, and then enjoys the speaker presentation. Sure, she’ll meet a few people and exchange a few business cards, and maybe even feel invested. Well, maybe! But what if, instead, the member paid her dues, took an active role on the local board of directors or on a committee, and then came to each meeting with a goal of meeting 4 new people and scheduling lunch with 2 of them. Not much more money. Certainly a little more time. But cranking up the engagement and energy a little can provide big results. You’re no longer just a member – you’re an engaged member!
There you are, overlooking the ocean, basking in the sun, fruity drink in hand. And then your cellphone rings! Or a text message disturbs your peace and quiet. What a drain of good energy and invested money!
We’ve all heard the overused metaphor of “sharpening the saw” while on vacation. Call it what you will, but truly getting away from the office and immersing yourself in your vacation is a blessing and really good for your health. I just returned from an amazing 2 week vacation to Europe. For part of it, I was on a cruise, and had very limited access to phone and email. Perfect!! While I didn’t decouple from electronics completely (I had a blast posting fun vacation pictures to Facebook), I stayed as far away from email as possible. And you know what? It was all OK upon return. I had prepared for the trip, alerted all my clients, and had back-up in place. It was great to come back amazingly refreshed and ready to re-engage. Once again, it’s a function of spending the time, money and energy to plan a vacation in the first place. But then showing the self- discipline to enjoy it.
And from a Rainmaking standpoint, it’s true that I wasn’t out doing networking, passing on referrals, or even doing much outreach on social media while I was gone. And yet, once back in the office, I was blessed with many referrals from people who had read my blogs and checked out my site while I was gone. The indirect marketing efforts had my back! So, while I thought June was going to be slow, I was wrong. And all that positive energy I’m putting back into my business since my return from vacation has been paying off big time!
Building and enhancing your brand.
We can’t always be out there personally, sharing our brand with the world, especially when we’re on vacation, but as evidenced above, our indirect marketing efforts like websites, blogs, social media and newsletters can be doing it for us. This is true not only for vacations, but also for the day to day. So, it’s very important that our materials are of good quality, they are up to date, and they reflect the personality or brand of the company we are trying to promote.
When was the last time you considered updating your materials? Maybe your website could use refreshing, or a complete overhaul. That’s definitely an exercise in expending money, time and energy, but it can definitely pay off. Do you write articles, blogs or generate content for social media? There’s certainly an investment of time and energy if you write your own materials, and there can be a monetary expense if you hire someone to assist. Again, it’s a mix of all of these things, and deciding how much of any of them to expend in this manner. You may choose to do nothing – but at least consider the possibilities and see if you can add them to your mix. You want your materials to be saying glowing things about you!
Invest in training and/or coaching
Investing in our education is often a very personal decision. Some people have to obtain a certain amount of training every year to keep their professional certifications. But I’m really talking about the training that makes you look inside yourself or your business periodically and think differently about the things you’re doing. This, again, can be an expenditure of money, time and energy. But don’t forget to feed the mind! It’s hungry.
Whatever you decide to spend your valuable resources on, I encourage you to remember to really think about the results you hope to achieve. How will those investments lead to building your pipeline for the future? Put your efforts toward those ends. And don’t forget to reward yourself for the investment efforts as well. We can all be a little hard on ourselves from time to time. Life is short….buy the shoes!