One of the most challenging parts of running your own business is landing new opportunities. Referrals can be a great way to gain new work, but it’s up to you to find the right people in your network, create strong relationships, and connect with them to find out what’s happening and how you can get involved.
In her webinar, How to Generate Breakthrough Opportunities by Leveraging Your Network, Chalyse Elsasser discussed how to identify and leverage the most valuable people in your network to generate more opportunities for your business. Below, we take a look at the key points from her talk about overcoming barriers to landing new work.
1. Seek Out the Right People
You know you need to reach out to people in order to discover opportunities that might be relevant to your business, but who exactly should you be getting in touch with? In order to determine where you should direct your efforts, start by asking yourself a few questions: where are most of your current referrals coming from? And, what type of opportunities do you really want to pursue? From there, think of the people in your network who have access to the type of work you’re interested in and who might be in a position to refer you.
Even if you are connected with hundreds of people on LinkedIn, you can only realistically manage a certain number of contacts. By narrowing down your network to people who can likely send you referrals for the type of work you want, you’ll be able to build stronger relationships with those who can make the biggest difference in your business.
2. Consider What Is Important and Make it a Priority
As an independent professional, client work tends to take precedence—after all, shouldn’t the bulk of your effort be focused on your clients if they are the ones paying you for your expertise? It’s easy to make the mistake of automatically labeling client work as “urgent” or “important,” but take a moment to step back and think about these tasks. Is the work you’re prioritizing both urgent and important?
Prioritizing your most important tasks—those that are both urgent and important —requires a change of mindset: managing relationships is just as important as client work. In order to embody this mindset change, start by making it easy on yourself. Consider hiring a helping hand. A virtual or part-time assistant can take on those daily tasks, giving you time to focus on your highest priority items.
3. Find a Way to Connect
Once you’ve identified the people you want to reach out to and have consciously made relationship building a priority in your daily work, the next question you’ll likely come across is: what do I say to these people?
Luckily, there are many simple, genuine ways you can approach people in your network. Center an email or LinkedIn message around the fact that it has been a while since you last spoke and want to catch up, say thank you for something they assisted you with in the past, ask for their help, or simply send a compliment.
Remember, when it comes to landing new work, the right relationships can have a big impact on the growth of your business. By identifying the right contacts in your network, prioritizing daily tasks with relationship building in mind, and making an active effort to reach out and stay in touch with key contacts, you can begin to establish mutually beneficial, long-lasting relationships that lead new opportunities.