I am an avid reader and I especially like to focus on business books.  After reading them I blog about them; because I have learned by teaching others, I learn more myself.  I recently had the chance to meet Brent Allan, who is the author of a new book entitled Stand Out.  It is a very practical read on the topic of marketing and is very applicable to networking for a new position as well as the real target of the book, building a business.  Brent uses the Acronym FAST to describe his marketing technique, which I will unpack below.

The F stands for follow up.  Follow up is defined as what you do in response to direct communication with someone.  Whether it is a meeting or a phone call, you need to respond with a simple thank you that is personal in nature.  In addition after this first follow up you need to find ways to communicate multiple times over coming weeks or months.  Brent, in his book, refers to a McGraw Hill study that found that 2% of sales occur after the first point of contact; 3% of sales occur after the 2nd contact; 5% occur after the 3rd contact; 10% occur after the 4th contact; and 80% of all sales occur between contacts number 5 and 12.  It is clear from my own experience, if I do not make a sale after the first opportunity that often down the road the sale comes back to me, if I appropriately follow up.  As a partner and coach with B2B CFO® I tell those I work with that this follow up is critical.  There is a tendency to think after a good meeting that you have won the deal or the job.  It often does not work that way and it is the follow up that gets the job done.  I have personally obtained clients a year or more after initial contact because I followed up and was top of mind when the opportunity was right.

The A stands for Adding Value.  What do you do that goes above and beyond?  When I am networking with people and especially when I am speaking with a potential client,  I look for opportunities where I can be of help to that person no matter if they are interested in my service or not.  This adds value.  When I have a client, I always look for ways to add additional value to the relationship outside the scope of what we are doing.  I do not care if it costs me something in the near-term; I am looking for a long term relationship that will pay dividends for many years.  One of the easiest ways to add value is with information.  One thing I do with every prospective client is to provide them a free benchmarking study of their business; this is information that is not readily available to them.

The S stands for Standing Out.  How do you separate yourself from the competition?  One way is by creating a niche for your services.  The leader of my local FENG chapter tells the story on one person who came through the group, who labeled himself the Energy Guy.  That was his background and the direction he was looking for a new position, by using the label everyone remembered him, he found a way to stand out.  A guarantee is another method.  Can you provide a money back guarantee for your service?  Brent, as a marketing consultant, provides a money back guarantee or continued service for a year at no charge if the customer is not satisfied.  My personal experience has been if a client is dissatisfied with my service, I did what I needed to do in order to satisfy him.  I would rather lose a few dollars than a client and all the bad will that follows.  If you are networking look for ways to help the person you are meeting with.  If you are proactive in soliciting information you can find a way to help them and thus stand out.

The T stands for touch.  If you are not constantly in touch with your key connections and customers then you are leaving sales on the table.  I recently picked up a new assignment with an old client because I have been in constant touch with him since I finished the assignment over a year ago.  When he was ready to proceed, I was top of mind.  I look for ways to stay in touch that are totally outside of the normal.  One thing I like to do is help clients or contacts find people to hire.  This is a total win-win situation.  I help a contact and allow someone else to make a recommendation that leads to employment for someone.  This is a feel good situation for everyone and keeps me in front of a large group of contacts.  Brent in his books uses greeting cards.  He sends cards to celebrate odd holidays.  Things like a Un-birthday or Ground Hogs day.  When people get cards at unexpected times with no selling involved it becomes a very positive touch.

Most of these ideas are easy to implement and cost very little but can pay big dividends.  I hope you try them out.

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