Well, I‘m glad I finally did! One of the very best books I’ve encountered on marketing and selling professional services. Get it here.
I wanted to include a short excerpt from the book that really embodies the approach I endorse when it comes to connecting with new prospective clients.
I’ll summarize the best practices at the end. Enjoy!
At 8:15 a.m. on Thursday, May 21, 2015, Sylvia Senaldi sent an email to Dr. Peter Tyre:
Pete, Meet Mac Shields. Mac attended your presentation recently and wanted to see if you would be interested in meeting up for coffee.
Mac is an old friend, a business associate and a smart guy. He has done great work for me in developing our go-to-market business strategy. I’ll let you guys take it from here!
Mac had heard Pete speak at a business conference the week before. He’d never heard of Pete’s laser technology firm, LiDAR (basically radar with light waves instead of radio waves), before and found it fascinating.
Also, Pete said something during his presentation that piqued Mac’s interest: he was struggling to find a viable commercial opportunity for his firm’s technology. Mac genuinely felt there was a real possibility that he could help Pete solve this business problem.
But Mac had never met Pete before. So, he looked him up on LinkedIn. There he saw that Pete was connected to his friend (and client) Sylvia, someone he had known for about twenty years.
He reached out and asked Sylvia if she’d be willing to introduce them. Graciously, she said yes.
Pete’s reply email to Mac came a few hours later that same morning:
From: Peter Tyre
To: Sylvia Senaldi; Mac Shields
Subject: Re: Intro
Thanks for the intro, Sylvia! Mac, I’d love to meet up with you. I’m traveling until next Tuesday. Do you have time next week before Friday?
Pete Dr. Peter Tyre
Chief Executive Officer Peak Photonics, Inc.
Mac admits that he has never been very good at cold calling. Actually, he hates it. Most people do—up there with fear of heights, spiders, and speaking in public.
However, if it is someone he has a genuine interest in getting to know, Mac is happy to reach out. It helps if he has someone or something in common. A connection can make the outreach seem natural, sincere, and genuine; such was his interest in Pete’s company and his mutual friend, Sylvia.
In such cases, his approach didn’t feel like cold calling or superficial networking; it felt more like making new friends. Sylvia’s email introduction was exceptional. Mac couldn’t have scripted a better one if he had tried.
Glowing client introductions like this one are tough to beat. With a solid introduction, the odds of getting a first meeting with someone are high.
Mac emailed Sylvia and Pete back later that same morning.
From: Mac Shields
To: Peter Tyre; Sylvia Senaldi
Subject: Re: Intro
Thanks for the introduction, Sylvia. Hi, Pete: I enjoyed hearing you speak at the B2B Luncheon on Monday and learning a bit about Peak Photonics. I had no idea there was such a cluster of photonics companies based here in Austin.
I knew there were a few, but nothing to the level that exists today. I’d like to take you to coffee, introduce myself and learn a bit more about Peak Photonics. Or, if it’s more convenient to meet at your office, just let me know.
How would next Thursday at 8:30 am work for you?
Thanks, Mac Shields
Founder, Shields Associates, LLC.
Ultimately, this connection resulted in that first coffee meeting where Mac and Pete got to know each other. Mac was sincerely curious about Pete’s technology and industry, and Pete, as a PhD physicist, was eager to pick Mac’s brain on various business topics. They kept in touch over a period of about six months, sharing articles, ideas and even books.
After about six months and maybe a half-dozen meetings, Pete asked Mac if he would be willing to assist him with a project. Pete needed help developing a framework for analyzing new market opportunities. This was an area in which Mac had extensive expertise, and the topic also interested him. It felt to him that working with Pete would be a good collaboration.
Mac wrote a proposal outlining his approach and the schedule and fees for the project. Pete accepted, and they started working together later that fall. A year after their first project was completed, Mac assisted Peak Photonics in analyzing a second emerging market opportunity.
Wouldn’t it be great if more of our business development attempts felt so effortless?
Please steal the ideas from this book excerpt! They are worth their weight in gold.
Get out there: Mac saw Pete speak at an event.
Get interested: Mac researched Pete on LinkedIn.
Find Connections: Sylvia, someone Mac had known for 20 years, also knew Pete.
Make a request: Mac asked Syliva to introduce him to Pete.
Reach out: After the intro, Mac sent a meeting request to Pete. And Pete accepted almost immediately.
Meet and explore: This wasn’t about selling or closing but about getting to know each other.
Keep in touch: Mac kept in touch with Pete and offered value.
The result: A request for proposal and a long-term business relationship.
How can you adapt this approach to your business connections?