Have you heard the one about the PR firm that thought new business could be attracted by having employees cold calling, while discouraging its staff from become actively involved in industry groups or non-profit initiatives?
It’s actually no joke but, rather, a shortsighted, ineffectual approach to career pathing employees and developing future firm rainmakers.
I’m often asked by young industry professionals: How do you bring in new business? The answer is simple—build relationships:
• Do a great job serving existing clients. They are your greatest referral sources.
• Get involved. That can include industry organizations such as PRSA and IABC, business groups, as well as community and non-profit organizations. Get out there. Do some pro-bono work. Buy a ticket. Join a Board. Make a difference.
• If/when a client or employee leaves, take the long view and demonstrate class upon their departure. Clients can come back. They also refer. Employees, on the other hand, could one day be in a position to hire you. Burned bridges are seldom repaired.
• You have to give to receive. Building relationships is a two-way street.
Relationship building does not happen overnight. It takes time, patience and hard work. Harder than picking up a phone and cold-calling? Absolutely. Then again, challenging and effective beats narrow-minded and worthless any day of the week.