Alert readers may recall that I had shoulder surgery recently. In fact, as I write this, it has been exactly six weeks to the day since I went under the knife (not that you bothered to call).
How has the recovery been? Well, as the old saying goes, there’s not a lot about it that reminds you of opening presents on Christmas morning. It’s a slow and painful process.
And yet, despite all that, I have to say that the human body’s ability to heal is pretty remarkable.
Think about it. Somebody literally cut open my shoulder, chipped off this, reattached that, and now, just a few weeks later, it’s starting to get back to normal. There’s hardly a scar, and with each passing week, things just get better and better.
Compare that steady improvement to what happens after your car gets dinged, or your computer gets a virus, or you tell your brother-in-law at Thanksgiving what you really think of him and his know-it-all wife (hey, I was drinking), and it’s clear that most things in life do not recover with the simple passage of time.
No, most things, left unattended, get steadily and progressively worse.
Well, in the world of professional services marketing, Exhibit A in that regard are (is?) your relationships. Left unattended, they wither and die, along with whatever value they might otherwise provide.
Top Of Mind is Half the Battle
Last week, for example, I saw a post on LinkedIn by somebody that I know pretty well. Not a close friend, but somebody I think highly of and have known for a long time.
He receives my newsletter and I receive his. And for the past several years, if anyone ever mentioned needing help in his area of expertise, I would send them directly to him.
I didn’t even read most of his newsletters. But there he was, month after month, showing up in my inbox.
But about a year ago (I checked), he stopped publishing. Eventually, I stopped sending people his way. Not because I no longer like him and not deliberately … I just forgot all about him.
It was like negative healing: slowly, without doing anything or even noticing, our connection became weaker and weaker, until one day, it was gone.
You Need a System
I love newsletters for all kinds of reasons, staying top of mind among them. But I get it; it’s a big commitment and writing isn’t for everybody.
So if that’s not your thing, find something else. Something – anything – that will keep you active in the brains of other people. Because that’s how word of mouth works.
Two people are sitting in Starbucks, one person says they need help with something, and the other person tries to think of a resource that could do the trick. It’s not science and it’s totally subjective. But sorry, that’s the deal.
And if you’re not in my brain when that need is raised, no matter how much I may like you and think highly of your skills, I either say nothing or send my Starbucks friend in another direction.
So try this simple approach:
Step #1. Make a list of everyone you know.
Not just “potential clients” or “influential people.” Everyone.
Your college roommate, your former coworkers, your friends from your professional associations, your brother-in-law (maybe wait until things cool down).
#2. Come up with ways to reach out to each of these people at least three times a year.
Send an email; say hello on LinkedIn; send a birthday card; call them up. It doesn’t really matter. What matters is that they remember you are alive.
Could you do a lot more in the name of marketing yourself? Absolutely.
But fading into invisibility among those you already know – and who would happily send people your way – is the absolute worst thing you can do.
Here’s the Bottom Line
Word of mouth requires that your name comes out of somebody else’s mouth (still with me?). It’s not luck and it’s not complicated.
And even though it is the best, most cost-effective means of professional services marketing, it only works if you come to mind when the moment arises.
In exactly 7 words, summarize today’s newsletter in the comments below.
(Extra credit if it rhymes.)
(Extra extra credit if it also includes the word “shoulder.”)
If you liked this article you’ll love the next one (I’ve been holding back on the good ones until you subscribe). Click here to sign up for future posts.