By Lou Sokolovskiy, Founder & CEO at Opus Connect
How to Be the Exception: Four Key Steps to Take in Growing Your Business Development Network
Covid 19 negatively impacted many businesses in 2020, but we’ve seen some remarkable innovation in a variety of business sectors that have allowed companies to pivot and thrive despite a global economic slowdown. These success stories are more than hopeful tales or the product of wishful thinking – they demonstrate that it is possible to make the most of a market in turmoil. Agility is a quality that is frequently prized when discussing best practices, and 2020 proved to be a true test of a company’s ability to pivot quickly to digital and virtual resources when faced with a sudden shift in conducting business as we knew it. How can your business be one of these success stories? We have a few ideas to implement and lean into right now to make 2021 a year of innovation and growth.
Bite-Size Goals Instead of Huge Initiatives
Maintaining a new year’s resolution isn’t easy! Drastically changing your diet and exercise habits once January 1 hits usually doesn’t stick – but gradual change in one or two habits over time tends to produce greater success. The same approach can be applied to business development goals. Don’t spend hours networking every day or you’ll burn out. Instead, as Stuart Rose suggests, try contacting three new people in your industry per week. You can knock that out after your morning coffee! This can mean dropping a quick note on LinkedIn, shooting a friendly text to a contact you met over drinks at a conference in 2019, or picking up the phone to make plans for a Zoom meeting.
New Relationships Are Great – But Don’t Forget Your Existing Clients
We’ve heard from so many Opus Connect members about how grateful they are for their existing professional network. Cultivating business contacts and nurturing existing relationships over the course of years gave many middle-market M&A deal professionals a network to lean on during a slow and uncertain 2020. Jared Stitz told us that he’s seen the most growth from continuing to build his relationships with existing clients, a sentiment echoed by William Kemp, who is also inspired by the creativity that people demonstrated upon needing to stay home yet come up with new ways to stay connected. Repeatedly, our network touted the importance of consistency in communications and leveraging your existing contacts.
Embrace the Digital Reality
No doubt about it, 2020 was the year of Zoom. While we had surely sat in on many conference calls, Skype updates, and were using Slack channels and Teams in the past, the pandemic made these digital tools a necessity. Just like you might upgrade your phone to the latest model, the hardware and software we use to conduct business needs underwent an upgrade in the past year. Opus Mind member Brett Frantz is making tech a priority in 2021 to assist in marketing initiatives, and Carrie DiLauro, co-chair of our Women in M&A group, along with Bill Bymel note the importance of embracing this new digital environment and building a brand online to ensure successful business development.
Opus Mind is just one of the digital tools that Opus Connect offers, one that takes advantage of our remote work status to promote peer-to-peer connection in a post-Covid reality. The small, curated groups of deal professionals within our Opus Mind community are able to bounce ideas off one another, and one of our members describes it as “market intelligent,” with pre-designed agendas and topics that are relevant to the current market landscape. By hearing from different perspectives in an easy-to-use digital format, our members are making new network connections, sharing ideas, and forging new paths in a post-Covid reality.
Look To Untested Waters
What haven’t you tried before? Jim Downes told us that the best thing he did in 2020 was hiring a professional writer to improve his digital content and outreach. Others took the extra down time from a slow business landscape to improve their industry knowledge through reading and other forms of digital learning. Matt Somma stated that being open to new relationships alongside his current client roster led to positive connections and successful outcomes in 2020. With the proliferation of tools, virtual events, speed networking meetings, and more, there are surely several options available that you have yet to try.
What are you doing to counteract the effects of 2020? We’d love to hear your thoughts on all aspects of business development! Find us on LinkedIn and on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram @opusconnect.