I had a great lunch with a colleague recently and the topic turned to Rainmaking. She shared with me that even though she’s trying to build her business, she’s had to cut back significantly on her networking activities because she has so many other things that compete for her time. We can all relate – right?
But it’s a delicate balance. If we do less networking, it’s difficult to meet the people who will become clients or referral sources – particularly when the business is young or in growth mode. Having not enough time is always a problem. So, how do we engage in the very important tasks of Rainmaking and still find balance? Here are some of my suggestions:
Take stock of the many things pulling at you and competing for your time. Is it existing client projects? Family? Non-profit or philanthropic areas you may be involved in (charities or your church)? Ask yourself,
“What is the most important thing for me to be doing right now to achieve the goals I’ve set for myself?” This is where written goal setting is so important. Some time ago, when you weren’t so crazily busy and being pulled in 100 directions, you sat down and told yourself what you really wanted to accomplish this year. And, if you did it well, you probably carved out goals for your business and your personal life. Now, pull out that paper and ask yourself if your goals have really changed, or if life has just come in and made it more challenging? If building your business is a stated priority, find a way to allocate some time to that and maybe reallocate in other areas of your life. Could your spouse help pick up the kids one extra night per week? Can you hire a housekeeper to do some of the heavy lifting? Can you do some of that client project from home, rather than commute several hours per day? Sometimes it’s just a matter of thinking differently about the things that steal away the minutes of our days.
It can be hard to delegate marketing or Rainmaking activities – particularly if you own your business and are the key person responsible for driving revenue. Unless you can afford to hire a salesperson (and many times in start-up or growth mode we cannot), you’ll still have to do much of it yourself. Besides, you are the best person to build those important relationships that will hopefully grow into long term referral opportunities. But, maybe you can delegate other things in your business. Are there administrative tasks that a virtual assistant could help with? Are there tasks you could offload to a college student seeking an internship and some “real world” experience? Can someone assist you with your social media, blogging or other web-based outreach? I’ve had a lot of success in my business by hiring college students and contractors to assist with these items. Doing a little homework will ultimately help you be able to delegate the tasks that don’t require your direct time – and free you up to do the important pipeline building activities!
Beef up your Indirect Marketing
If going to networking events and having lunch with prospects is direct interaction, then blogging, working on social media, updating your web presence and sending out newsletters are indirect marketing. Depending on the nature of your business, these activities are generally not stand-alone, but they enhance the other direct activities you engage in. It does take up some time, certainly, but maybe not as much as you might think. And it can be done at your convenience. For instance, I’m drafting this blog on a Sunday evening in my backyard. There aren’t any networking opportunities right now, but I have a few minutes to think and work on my business. I can still be present with my family, listen to some music, even have a glass of wine, and be engaged in a little marketing activity at my leisure. Again, depending on your target audience, advertising on Facebook or Linked-In (or other platforms) may also make sense. Oftentimes, those activities can be scheduled during off times, evenings or weekends. So much of life has become virtual today. Find a way to use that to your advantage!
Cut back, don’t cut out!
When it comes to networking, consistency is key, but something is always better than nothing. If your goals at the beginning of the year were to actively participate in 4 networking groups, and attend just one meeting per week, that probably seemed like a reasonable milestone. But, if suddenly, that seems too overwhelming, then perhaps rotate the meetings and instead of attending every group every month – cut back on one or two per month, and then catch them the next time. If networking becomes so burdensome that it’s a stressor, rather than you being truly engaged in building your business and enjoying it, then cut back. But don’t cut it out completely. You still need to be seen out there! Be active enough so that your group knows you and misses you when you’re gone! And don’t forget to reassess. Maybe when some of your other stressors subside a bit, you can ramp up the networking again.
Ultimately, what you spend your valuable time on is a very personal choice, and only you can decide where to direct your resources. But I recommend to my Rainmaking consulting clients to stay as consistent as possible and keep a constant drumbeat going in your circles about your business and your activities. Allocate some time, even if you have to reallocate. It’s very easy to quit networking, particularly if it doesn’t come naturally. But it’s difficult to grow a business without doing it.
For more tips on Rainmaking, building a plan, and keeping yourself accountable, check out my upcoming 3 part webinar series – Jumpstart Your Rainmaking. You’ll be glad you invested the time to regroup around your own networking and pipeline building efforts!