by Aurora Cammarata
So you just had your review and it went great — with the exception that your supervisor now wants you to start participating in business development for the firm. The current firm principals are the primary rainmakers, but the boss said, “If you want to move toward becoming a principal, you must be able to bring in new work. And there is no time like the present.”
The good news is that you are now on a leadership track; bad news is you have no idea where to start when it comes to “participating in business development.” And never mind that in any given week you are already working more hours than you care to count working on your clients’ projects. Sound familiar?
It is highly likely that the folks at the top — the ones that always seem to get a call out of nowhere about the next RFP, bid opportunity, or pitch presentation — were not fully formed as excellent rainmakers when they started out as young professionals either. But what did they do over the last 10, 15, or 20 years of their careers to become the ones that get the call?
The first thing to remember is that as service providers — whether they are architects, interior designers, builders, or engineers — they did, and still continue to, provide stellar service to their clients. If you do not go the extra mile in your interactions with your clients — what you do for them and how you do it — you are not going to get very far in the business development game. First and foremost as a seller-doer, you must be exceptional in your work. It is always the right starting point, but just doing great work is not enough to have the next job show up on your door step. So what else can you do?
There are some specific tasks and regular activities that you can do in order to build your network of associates, colleagues, and even clients that can lead you to your next, and the next, and even the next project assignment. Looking to create relationships with clients that can provide repeat project work is as important — if not more so — as chasing project leads, and an experienced rainmaker does both.
Great rainmakers are in it for the long term and also help others with their rainmaking activities. Sharing information and knowledge is just as important as providing referrals. Using technology to support the business development process is central to the information gathering process, but there is nothing like making a more personal or creative connection that makes you stand out from the crowd — in a good way!
Join me at my 2016 ABX session “Business Development: Tips and Techniques” where I will share with the attendees several of those tasks, activities, tips, and techniques that will focus your limited time for BD activities in the right direction. The goal is to start developing good business development habits that are easy to do each week and will ultimately pay dividends for those that are consistent in performing them over the long term.
The session is designed for seller-doers – professionals that provide service as designers, architects, engineers, and builders to clients. Marketing and business development professionals that are new to the game or selling AEC services would also benefit from this “where do I begin?” session. To up the ante on your business development game, make room for “Business Development Tips and Techniques” (A03) on Tuesday, November 15 at 2016 ABX at the BCEC in Boston.
Aurora Cammarata is vice president of business development and marketing at Timberline Construction Co.