A Man About Town
I ran into a contractor friend the other day which was a nice surprise since I hadn't seen him in a long time. So after a friendly handshake I asked the typical, "Where ya been?" To which he answered, "I've just been busy working." That's music to my ears. Sure I haven't seen him for a while but for good reason; he's got business and he's making money. He proceeded to tell me he's been getting a lot of jobs from a gentleman who sends him insurance work consistently. When I asked him how he had gotten such a great connection his answer was, Starbucks. Apparently my friend goes to that Starbucks pretty frequently and one day when he was in there he overheard a gentleman talking about needing a reliable contractor to do insurance jobs. My friend simply walked over handed him his card and they began to talk. The rest is history.
Now before you go rushing to your nearest Starbucks let us explore the real lesson here. My friend doesn't just go to Starbucks on a regular basis, he also goes to certain restaurants, bars, and social functions and makes himself a familiar face. See, sometimes networking can get, well, kind of "networky." With networking there is an implied agenda which is good sometimes but doesn't appeal to a lot of great prospects. A lot of prospects would like to meet in a casual way and simply get to know people before they even think about doing business with them. This is when it pays to be "a man about town."
The great thing about this is that it's fun! Pick some popular places in town where high level people congregate. It could be a restaurant bar that gets very busy during happy hour. It could be a popular lunch spot where professionals gather. Or, of course, a popular coffee shop. The point is, you're a regular, and not only do people who come there see your face, but more importantly, the people who work there know you. Do have any idea how many people bartenders, waitresses, and waiters meet a day? Building relationships with these "lead aggregators" is a wonderful way to get introduced to prospective clients or partners. The trick is to wait until you are asked what you do, don't jump the gun or you become a salesman. If you're a regular who treats people well, which is code talk for buying drinks and tipping well, then surprisingly, you'll be one of the most popular people at the establishment. These could be the funnest marketing dollars you ever spend!