5 ways You can Activate your Network to Build your Business and Get More Clients

“If I’m being honest, I’m suffering from a bit of FOMO,” said one of my clients recently in a coaching session. “I get a bit jealous when I see other people being successful. What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I get more clients? What am I doing wrong?”

These are issues and sentiments that I often hear (and admittedly have sometimes felt myself) over the 18 years I’ve been in business.

Do you ever feel that way? Like YOU must be doing something wrong and EVERYONE else is doing something right?

It can seem, on the outside looking in, like you’re the wallflower at a dance or the only one not invited to a party. What are THEY doing that I’m not? Is it the dress I’m wearing? Am I not in the “in” crowd?

And while I can’t say definitely what everyone else is doing and you’re not, to get clients and fill your business, there are a few learnings I’ve gleaned along the way in the 18 years I’ve been serving clients through PR Consulting, Leadership Coaching and Business Mentorship. Here goes —

5 ways you can activate your referral network to build your business and get more clients:

1) Actively Promote your Offerings

Let your ideal clients know you want to work with them. Does your ideal client know you’re looking for clients? Just like the lonely wallflower at the school dance, perhaps you standing all alone over there is giving the impression that you’re not particularly interested in dancing. If you really wanted to dance, wouldn’t you be out there, asking others if they wanted to dance with you? The power of the ask cannot be underestimated. We can’t just assume that people know you have availability in your calendar. Let your ideal client know – pick up the phone, send an email, advertise, develop a promotional campaign – let them know you are open for business and they will be more likely to show up.

2) Build a Connections List

Perhaps you haven’t done this in a while. Sometimes you may need to treat your business as though you’re just starting out. Years ago, after I resigned from my corporate communications role and hung out my shingle as “Elford Communications,” the first thing I did was sit down and decide who I wanted to work with. I made a list — a list of organizations I was interested in working with – and then I scoured my network for people I knew or who I could be introduced to, who worked in those organizations – and this was before the gift of Linked In! Then you have to reach out. Ask for virtual coffees and connection calls. Find out what your community is up to and let them know the same. If they don’t need your services right now, perhaps they know someone who does.

3) Ask for Referrals

Did you know that new clients are 70% more likely to say “yes” if they have been referred to you? The power of the referral cannot be underestimated. More than 50% of business owners say they get the majority of their customers through referrals. No one wants to be “first,” and everyone wants proven results from someone they trust. Here are a few ways you can ask for referrals:

a) At the end of a client engagement – it can be an obvious time to ask for a written or recorded testimonial once you have completed with a client. Happy clients want to share their gratitude and will usually be happy to provide you with that referral.

b) When a client is particularly happy one day – grab those opportunities to capture your client’s happiness. You could even capture what they may have said in a particularly effervescent moment and ask if you could use it for a testimonial. I’ve never had anyone say no!

c) Ask people who would love to work with you but “can’t right now” – due to timing, finances or what have you. Especially if you have provided some pro bono work as they have been exploring working with you, they will likely be happy to refer you to those in your network who would benefit from your help.

4) Make an Influencers List

As a PR professional, we spend a lot of time investing in relationships with “people who know people.”  We call these people ‘influencers.’ Influencers are those people or organizations who can influence your ideal client or help you get in front of them. Think:

  1. Media personalities/outlets
  2. Podcast hosts
  3. Professional development organizations
  4. Community groups and associations
  5. Special interest groups
  6. Chamber of commerce
  7. Speaking opportunities

What are some ways you can get in front of your ideal client through the people in your work who “know people?”

5) Develop a Networking Routine

An accomplice to the “Make an Influencers List” strategy is to attend those events and rub shoulders with entire groups of your potential clients. This can be done socially – the golf foursome and and country club game has worked for many business owners for decades if not centuries. Attend a professional development seminar or community event. Get out there. Talk to people. If you are naturally shy – find smaller groups to network with. You don’t have to be the life of the party to meet new people. AND, schedule it in your calendar. Perhaps you need to make a commitment to yourself to attend an event or reach out to a connection 1x/week or 2x/month. Schedule it in. Make it part of your “to do” list, and watch the business opportunities get activated.

Having tangible things to do and get busy with has helped many the business owner through a dryish spell in their business. Activate your network so your contacts know you are looking to build your business. Especially now as there is a light at the end of the tunnel of the endless days of Covid- inspired isolation.  It’s time to start getting out there again. The economy is thinking about turning around. Make sure you and your business are a part of that new economic energy.

From my bubble (that I’m about to burst of!) to yours,