Being nimble, assertive, creative, and data driven are certainly the best overall business development and marketing strategies. Sometimes, however, just being there, when the competition is not, is a successful business strategy. At other times, not burning bridges with past clients can offer a surprisingly successful segue into attaining future work.
Recently I had the opportunity of meeting with a potential client before she announced she was looking for a consultant. How did that happen? I keep a targeted list of 40 near-by national and regional colleges and at least once a year I send out very basic promotional material to their public relations directors and follow-up with a phone call. This builds awareness of my services, helps cultivate relationships over time, allows me to update my prospect list and is a superior way to gather raw intelligence about my competition.
The director from one school responded to my email with a cheery note saying my timing was perfect, that they were looking for a publicist and writer, but were struggling with how to conduct the search. I met with the director, and she hired me without even putting out a request for proposal to other consultants. Just being there before others turned the trick.
When you get fired from a job, it is natural to resent it, but try not to overtly express resentment because the bitter after-taste will linger with the client long after you are gone; whereas if you express appreciation for the work you have been privileged to complete, the good feelings can lay the foundation for future work.
A year ago, after I had been working as a consultant for a large medical institution for over a decade, a new VP was appointed and he wanted all work done in-house. I was told my services were no longer needed. In parting, I said I greatly valued the exciting work I had been assigned to do over the years (which was true) -- and left. Within a year, I received an email out of the blue from this same VP who was now a Sr. VP at another institution, and, knowing my work, he asked me to undertake a large number of projects. I don’t think that would have happened if we had parted on a sour note.