January 13, 2014
How Do You Build and Maintain A Corporate Network?
Corporate Networking * Gather – Organize - Maintain
It is important to be ‘top of mind’ with all of your customers and suppliers. Especially when they have the need for your product or service. My process is called the ‘Touch System’. If you want to be consistently ‘top of mind’ you need to build a systematic process. I’d be happy to share more about how my Touch System works. I have done some group presentations and can do one for your team too.
The first step is to find all of these people and to build a database full of this information. Everyone in the company is responsible for gathering contact information whether through emails, vcards or business cards. Whatever works is fine. We even run a contest and post a graph showing how many contacts each employee has submitted.
Don’t tell anybody but we are thinking about handing out $50 bills. We would give a $50 bill each month to the person who gathers the most contacts for that month.
Now that you have the contacts and a means to continue aggressively building the database you need a database software package. We use ACT by Sage. Figure out what you want to do with the database and thoroughly research them before you choose. It is possible to switch later but can be a huge pain. Take the time upfront. We organize our contacts into the following categories:
• Prospects – These are People with whom you would like to do business
• Customers – These are People with whom you do some business but not regularly
• Clients – These are People with whom you do regular ongoing business
• 3rd Parties – These are People with whom you will not likely ever do business with but could be helpful to your business in some way. Like suppliers.
It’s important to know who is in your database and to group them accordingly so that you treat them properly and personally. Notice that they are all people, not companies. You can only do business with people.
Everyone maintains their contact with people to some degree or other. When you do it systematically, magic happens! I struggled with this systematizing for a while and then the Great Jack Daly gave me a lesson over lunch in Quebec City. He asked if I truly wanted to keep in contact with these people to help grow my business. Of course I do. Then he asked me how I could to that without being efficient at it. That is a key point and my game changer.
So, Prospects I reach out to every 4 months. Customers I reach out to every 3 months and Clients I reach out to every second month. I have 4 groups of prospects so that I am reaching out to a different person in a target company each month. Likewise I have 3 groups of Customers and 2 Groups of Clients. I usually send a joke. Appropriate, of course.
One of the jokes I sent this month.
A GUY WAS WALKING BESIDE A POND WHEN A FROG JUMPED OUT AND TOLD HIM THAT SHE WAS REALLY A BEAUTIFUL PRINCESS AND IF HE WERE TO KISS HER, SHE WOULD MAKE HIM VERY HAPPY! HE PICKED UP THE FROG AND PUT IT INTO HIS POCKET.
A FEW MINUTES LATER, THE FROG POKED HER HEAD OUT AND SAID, "DIDN'T YOU HEAR ME?! I'M A BEAUTIFUL PRINCESS AND IF YOU KISS ME I WILL STAY WITH YOU AND DO ANYTHING YOU WANT!"
THE GUY TOOK THE FROG OUT AND SAID, "LOOK, I UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU ARE SAYING, BUT I AM A CONTROLS ENGINEER AND RIGHT NOW I DON'T HAVE TIME FOR A GIRLFRIEND,........BUT A TALKING FROG IS REALLY, REALLY COOL!"
Did You Already Get This One?
If you did then you know that you are a person who I value. If you didn’t get it, let me know. I am keenly intent on maintaining a relationship with my important people.
Michael McCourt at 5:36 PM