If the Change Often team had a superhero origin story, the secret to our powers would be the Human...
7 Collaborative Ways to Reach a Broader Base
At Change Often, we brand ourselves as a Social Innovation Consulting Firm. While we are a relatively young firm, we have had the opportunity to interface with a broad swath of professionals from private, public, and nonprofit institutions and build our client base.
This reach across sectors has been one of our firm’s biggest strengths in business development, and we want to let you in on our strategy. As a collaborative firm, furthering your business development furthers ours. We hope the seven tips listed below help you expand your client base by putting your name in front of more people.
Really Utilize your Network
Networking makes the world go around, or at least that’s what the business card industry needs us to think. Real networking, the kind that leads to mutually beneficial relationships, doesn’t depend on 3.5x2 pieces of unreasonably nice paper (with or without raised ink) - it depends on your ability to use what you learned from the exchange of names, cards and causes.
Finding someone who shares your professional passions is an exciting prospect for both parties. You may be surprised at the response you get if you simply follow up with a new connection about the aspect of work life you both love! Informally partnering with members of your network through friendships can create a larger shared base of potential.
2. Don’t Neglect the Personal for the Professional
Just like the disaster of lackluster networking tactics, don’t rely on your office building to meet other professionals. Ideally, we all have passions and goals outside of work (or so I’ve heard… kidding! Ask the neighbors below me about my Wednesday night voice lessons).
Please, please do not try to turn your social life into a string of shoehorned “networking opportunities,” or you will simply stop receiving invitations to Pint Night. Instead, nurture your personal life and relationships and bring what you learn about life and people into the workspace. This will make you much more interesting when you get the chance to make a professional connection - for example, a potential client may not know much about your trade and how it would benefit their work, but they feel connected to someone who supports the local music scene their niece is breaking into and may be more likely to engage with the person if not the pitch.
3. Learn and Love your Professional Stories
In April, I explained the importance of incorporating storytelling into your professional toolbelt. Knowing the stories you tell through your work well enough to share them can make all the difference in professional engagement. Hearing a pitch can be a drag, but humans are hardwired to seek out stories for entertainment and to make sense of the world. Switching up the way you present information about your work from Business And Sales (TM) to a more invitational story will naturally expand your audience because people will want to listen, on or off the clock.
4. Invest in Smart Socials
Speaking of off the clock, what do you do when you’re not working? It’s okay if what you tell people and what your iPhone screen time report say are two different things - social media is a force of nature these days. As of 2019, 7 in 10 Americans use Facebook, and the site has the technology to tell you a huge amount of information about those 7 in 10. Facebook and Instagram’s advertising ad audience report tools are second-to-none and free to access. Utilizing social media is essential in this day and age.
What not to do with this information: call up your friend’s high school kid who has 28k followers on her personal Instagram and ask her to run your socials. Odds are, she doesn’t know your professional anthology, may not connect with your vision and mission, and has never written marketing copy before. I promise that you, regardless of the story you tell yourself about your savvy, will be able to find a broader audience on social media if you use it as (you guessed it) a story-telling platform about your organization, what it does, and the impact it has. If you’d rather offload this task to someone else, there are qualified professionals who would love to connect!
5. Know your bottom line
If you have heard our founder and Principal Consultant Cyril Jefferson speak about Change Often, you have likely heard the following statement:
Our bottom line isn’t dollars made, but lives saved.
This assertion addresses our for-profit-for-good standing and guides how and with whom we connect, collaborate, and engage. While we cultivate an invitational and collaborative approach, if a new venture interferes with our firm’s bottom line, it is likely not a worthwhile connection. One step beyond that, we only cultivate relationships with people and organizations who bring us closer to our goal. Do you know your bottom line? How does it relate to the base you are working to expand? How can they help? How can you help them, help you?
6. Do What You Love When You Can
Our firm believes that people do their best work when they do what they love. I love writing, and I am fortunate enough to have a space to write in my role as Strategic Communications and Project Consultant for Change Often. I understand that this is a privileged position - I am sure many accountants do not wake up in the morning just dying to populate another pivot table - but I believe that professionals will reach a point in their career where they can incorporate their passion into their daily work.
It may be challenging to figure out how to bring what you love into what you do, but your combination of skills and passions is probably not entirely unique! Harness that power of social media and search hashtags for your favorite things. Hop on Pinterest and look at what Internet strangers have made. Speak with those working in your field of dreams so you can build your own - and your zeal will shine through and attract new connections to your base.
7. Engage With Your Local Community
Finally, and most importantly, don’t forget the where in your professional anthologies. You may personally have nothing in common with your next door neighbor, but your geographical proximity shapes a huge part of a shared experience. If you’re a homeowner, your property taxes support a school system. Regardless of homeowner status, you have the ability to vote for city representatives. Do you cheer for a sports team? That’s a community. A neighborhood book club? Community. What about all the people working to end food deserts, homelessness, addiction? They all form communities.
We are of course not charging you to solve society’s issues - but there is always a way to plug in, and you will not be walking alone in your mission to make your community stronger.
Connections made through community building are forged in the fire of a higher call. That accountant from earlier - the one with the pivot tables - might not be able to reconcile the value of spending hours and labor in building up a stronger community. But I am sure she can acknowledge the uniting power of community good, and any savvy businessperson knows a healthy workforce is a healthy economy ripe for connections and collaboration.
Populating a robust base of connections and clients is a fundamental element of business development, and taking these proactive steps will ensure that you connect with outcome-minded people who understand just what it is you are trying to accomplish. A clear, well-stated vision will win you the ear, hearts, and eventually trust of people across a network wider than you could ever imagine.
If you want to connect with Change Often to incorporate your passion into your work, flesh out your professional anthologies, or do well by doing good, click on the “Contact Us” box below! As I said above, nothing is more exciting than meeting someone with a shared passion, so don’t hesitate to send us a message!
Stay tuned for more content on taking a strategic approach to engaging with the world.