Three Paths to Business Development in COVID Era

By Chad Schleicher for Weitz
COVID-19 has changed our environment over the last eight months and forced us into a new modality of working and competing for business. While each state has certain restrictions in place, there is a common thread throughout the United States, and that is much of our interaction and communication is being done digitally; whether that is over the phone, through email, or video platforms like Zoom 
This transition into a digital, remote working environment might feel impossible at times and, with the pandemic not having a direct end in sight, exhausting. While the burnout might be strong, we need to stay motivated and energized now more than ever. Every company needs to sustain relationships, grow new relationships and increase repeat business, which is why there are certain steps we all need to take in order to improve our Business Development efforts.  
The three steps to improve our Business Development efforts that stand out amongst the others are: 
1: Maximize Social Media 
If done right, Social Media can drive significant value to your company’s bottom line. For starters, outside of time spent by an individual on a social media platform, the expense is nearly zero. However, quite drastically, the touch points a post can achieve is staggering.  
According to Hootesuite, “There are over 1 billion Instagram users, 2.5 billion Facebook users, 330 million Twitter users, and 675 million LinkedIn users.” Hootesuite goes on to say, “Putting that into context, nearly 28 percent of (all Americans use) LinkedIn.” That means that 1 out of every 4 people you walk past or see used LinkedIn in the past month. The outreach is unreal. A single post can garner 10k views. The most connected person could barely reach out to 10k people in a single year, yet that can be accomplished in minutes using social media.  
Like everything, there are certain steps needed to achieve a successful social media post. The key elements for a successful post are: Use a high-quality image; keep your description short; make sure to incorporate tags to people and companies; make sure to use hashtags to tie to larger general groups, and, finally, interact with those who comment after your post to continue that posts visibility.  
2: Develop or Improve your Relationship Tracking 
If you are a successful business, you are having constant conversations with clients and partners. These conversations need to be retained. There needs to be a sense of solidarity amongst your company that shows clients and partners you communicate internally.  
Not every company can afford a serious CRM system, but any consistent usage of a system will do. For example, a simple Excel spreadsheet or Google Docs is just as beneficial as long as people are utilizing it. The key is to make sure that the tool used is easily accessible and people are held accountable for utilizing it.  
One method of accomplishing this is to hold weekly check-ins on these conversations and assign follow up tasks if needed. If you are new to creating your own Customer Relationship Management tool, it is important to have a few key components – Internal Point Person, Company Name, Individual Name, Location, Last Contact, Comments, and Action Items.  
3: Find Ways to Help a Client or Partner 
Right now is not the appropriate time to reach out to clients and ask for more. Most are struggling and worried about longevity of their pipeline and future revenue.  
This is the time to creatively think about how you can help your clients. What information can you share that helps them? Who can you introduce to expand someone’s professional network? Where can you offer up free advice or consultations?  
There are a few things to consider doing. Join an association and take the extra step to get involved in a committee. If you are in a position to donate, then donate to a non-profit that is helping the people affected by the pandemic. Right now is the time to help your network instead of worrying about receiving anything in return.  
Martin Luther King, Jr. said it best, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: What are you doing for others?” 
There is a silver lining during this unsettling time for all of us. Instead of getting down, frustrated and burnt out, we need to push forward and see where there are opportunities to improve as individuals, as family members and as professionals. More than ever, take this time to fine-tune yourself, fine-tune your Business Development efforts, and use this time to establish better habits.  

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