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Joanna Goddard, commercial growth strategist, is a highly respected business consultant based in the UK

7 secret business meetings to schedule for success

My secret seven . . .

Fruitful business development needs energy and drive but also two words that are arguably less sexy: Discipline and Consistency. These are both pivotal, particularly in successful business development for B2B relationships, and no more so than in this digital age. Nurturing your contacts so that peer acquaintances turn into game changing business associates can directly affect your bottom line.  Digital profile is everything and secret business meetings are the key!

It can also (less tangibly, but no less importantly), generate valuable leads and referrals. This kind of organic and two-way business development can be crucial to increasing revenue particularly for professional service firms such as lawyers, accountants, architects, investment syndicates and business venues. Effective time management plays a big part in achieving this.

So what do I mean by discipline and consistency? I mean setting yourself some meaningful and achievable digital profile goals, regularly building on your personal online brand and committing to regular digital housekeeping. Ensuring that you as an individual, whether running your own business, or as a Director or Partner in a firm, maintain a high quality digital profile is critical. An often-overlooked aspect of today’s senior business leaders, digital savvy gaps in the board room are a hot topic. Did I mention time management?

This is an area of strategy that I advise on:

Ensuring that digital knowledge and understanding are developed to include B2B relationship management, personal brand and internal and external communications in tandem with IT and cyber security planning. But I’m going to reveal here a number of smart, savvy and simple ways to ensure that you maximise your time management is efficient to make digital strategy part of your business development success.

Here is my top tip: schedule seven ‘secret meetings’ with. . . yourself. Yes, actually take charge of your time management. Book out your own diary and commit to quality time to get the job done for each of the following:

1. Social media profiles review (every 6 months)

Set up a simple log of all social media platforms that you have a presence on, both personally and for business. Twitter? LinkedIn? Pinterest? Kiltr? Facebook? Instagram? You need to list them ALL. Then review which are personal and which are business and ensure that all business ones have the same image and biog, and a different image and biog are set for your personal ones. Reschedule this as an automatic appointment in your diary every 6 months to ensure that your personal brand is fresh and up to date, as well as managing expectations. If you have business connections on a personal feed, ensure you point that out or your professional image may get confused. Consider carefully what “in need of wine / gin” type posts at 4pm on a Friday say about you in a business context. Do 4am posts on a Sunday night bemoaning how much you have to do, smack of dire disorganisation? Hmm, a rallying cry to fellow overworked parents perhaps but maybe not the best message to be sending to potential clients? Probably best to keep your business and personal followers separate when it makes sense to do so.

2. LinkedIn contacts export (every 6 months)

LinkedIn is a wonderful thing when used correctly. However while it continues to grow and scale up at a rapid rate – it’s worth putting a value on all your efforts within it. After all, what if it crashed? What if it went into administration? How would you find all those contacts that you had built up over the last few years? Many of my clients have in excess of 1,000 contacts each on LinkedIn – yes, go and count yours – so why run the risk of someone else having total control of that valuable data? If you work in professional services, that database may actually even add value to your business. So learn how to export your contacts – LinkedIn helpfully enables you to do this by the click of a button in Settings – and then save a copy in your filing. Set a recurring appointment to do this every 6 months and you’ll be nicely backed up. While you’re at it – check how many contacts aren’t getting your own e-news and act accordingly!

3. Write two blog posts (quarterly)

Content is king. Are your peers and marketeers forever nagging you to produce content? Well if you are a business leader you need to accept that they are right – content and an efficient digital strategy is crucial for any business that has ambition to grow over the next 5 years, so accept it and get organised. If you have succeeded in business to date you will have learnt that effective delegation needs leadership, so whether you write your own blog content or outsource to a copywriter, you hold the knowledge. Schedule yourself a couple of hours once a quarter to read client feedback, client hot topics, industry intel, and make notes of blog content relevant to you. Then ensure that it is written and published.

By booking time in your diary to achieve this and giving it the due consideration that your business warrants, you will get it done. Try and write more than one to make best use of your time – if you stockpile then you can publish one a month or even one a week. You get the idea.

4. CRM review / follow ups / meeting note actions (monthly)

Following up is one of the biggest challenge areas for businesses. Networking and initiating business relationships is pointless without follow up. See my previous blog on that topic alone [The F Word; How To Follow Up]. However if you spend a lot of time each month ‘out and about’ then simply schedule a recurring monthly meeting with yourself and your notebook. Make those actions happen. Check off those lists of ‘to dos’, update your CRM system and/or your PA so everyone’s in the loop. That way you won’t miss a beat and will start to see a flow of return intros and helpful information sent to you from others in return.

5. CPD (monthly) industry, leadership, management, tech, education

Specialist? Expert in your field? It’s clearly important you stay informed. CPD, industry reading, useful articles you kept a note of online to read later. Schedule yourself a monthly Library appointment, treat yourself to a lovely fresh coffee and take your reading to a relaxing spot and enjoy developing your knowledge. You will be amazed how quickly this feeds the mind with client solutions, blog topics and so on. Give your profession the respect it deserves. Don’t let email tennis rule your world. Schedule yourself informative Library meetings once a month at least and don’t feel guilty about it.

6. Update CV (annually)

Your professional CV can support job searches, but also work for tender submissions, consortium or consultancy work or even awards entries. Ensuring fresh thinking on this to keep it interesting, relevant and sharp comes from quality time spent on developing and updating it when you have time to ponder, and not when you’re working to the wire on a deadline. So schedule at least an annual, if not biannual meeting to do this.

7. Admin / reading / to do list / in box drifters (weekly)

Fridays and Mondays are a great opportunity to declutter admin and emails in particular. Give yourself a weekly meeting slot to stay on top of it. You will not lose sight of emails or tasks that way and ensure that your client service levels remain high. If you think having a thousand plus emails in your inbox is irrelevant or simply an IT storage issue, you’d be wrong. I’ve actually heard people bragging about the crazy number of emails they’re carrying around (one person proudly showed me 10,657 on the mail icon on their phone) but honestly, you simply sound scarily inefficient. Be proud to be efficient, streamlined and professional. Get filing done weekly, get in boxes cleared weekly, get your actions done for service delivery on time. Schedule yourself a dedicated hour or two a week for this rather than just doing a bit every now and then. This is where the Diligence and Consistency I mentioned at the start comes in. It’s probably not the most exciting part of what you do, but being efficient in this way creates mind space as well as computer space and it’s what enables top fee earners to produce efficient, high quality work.

A bit brutal? Well, yes, but I do hope I’ve inspired you as well as perhaps jostled you out of a few bad habits – in a nutshell, be digitally efficient on a regular basis and you’re likely to make more revenue as a result.

I hope you found this blog helpful. I specialise in business development – getting more out of the time and money you spend on it and ultimately increasing your revenue. If you would like to discuss improving your own business development performance you can enquire here.