When I first launched my mediation practice (back when AOL was new), I was approached online by a Fortune-ranked company to design a conflict management curriculum for their in-house university. I said no.
I reasoned that there were so many deserving individuals that I could spend my time helping and that the company would find someone else. I was wrong. Once they persuaded me to talk with them I learned that big businesses are ripe with conflict and often have little or no capacity to address them in a meaningful way. Viola! Strategic Conflict Management Associates, my first consulting company, was born.
SCMA grew quickly. And, before I knew it I was providing a variety of services- design, mediation, training, facilitation, speaking- to high powered companies like Coca Cola, Digital, Polaroid, Milipore, US Trust, just to name a few. Not only did I fulfill my mission to ‘change the way America works’, but I made money, too. My bottom line got thicker and I was able to do more pro bono work. All around it was a win/win.
How Attract Business Clients
That question seems daunting, doesn’t it? But really, like anything else, it’s as simple as repeating a series of effective action steps. It takes determination, confidence and time. However, the results: less worry, less selling, more meaning, more money, are well worth it. Let me share one or two of my top ten tips to win business clients here. You can also hear Tessa Stowe of Salesconversations.com share her top ten on Monday, July 16th.
Step 1- Crow about You
I’d say the most important step is crowing about you. Realize that as a mediator (even without a legal degree) you have value to offer a business, big or small, and drawe confidence from that.
Start reading your local business journal or the business section of your newspaper. Quickly, you’ll see how many situations you could positively impact with your mediation skills (particularly if you unbundle them). Of course you can always enhance your skills and knowledge to attract a certain business niche, but the first step is believing you can help.
Step 2- Quack like a Duck
Translation: Act like you belong in a corporate/busines setting. That means you have to learn how businesses acquire new vendors (that’s you) and do business. Have a business card and a website. Learn about their industry. All these things will help you be an insider who can become a trusted advisor.
Step 3- Fish where the Fish Are
Find an appropriate business niche for you then research the heck out of them. (I worked with financial institutions and manufacturing concerns) The companies that are progressive and collaborative will become clear to you, as will those companies that deal poorly with conflict. Either can be a good client pond for you.
Pick 3-5 companies in your niche and approach them. Because of your earlier research you’ll be able to pinpoint specific areas in which you can help. And, don’t be shy. It may take many calls and meetings before you land the big one.
Try. Fail. Learn. Grow!