An Insider’s Guide to Getting Great Customers to Come to You

When I first started my own business and took business-building seminars, I quickly got overwhelmed by the marketing “must do” action steps. Just thinking back on the “drill call” I’d hear still makes me dizzy: Go to lunch with someone new every day for 30 days, meet 50 new people each month, go to networking events once a week, join a “Leads Group,” advertise in your local paper…Promote, Promote, Promote. The introvert in me would shudder. I remember one seminar where we were to go up to strangers in the rooms to introduce ourselves and “sell” what we do. I left the room in tears, knowing that if I had to be like that every day I’d never make it. One of the teachers came out and offered me an alternative. He asked, “What would you WANT to do? How would you want people to see the value of what you do?”

It was a great question. I didn’t want to “sell me.” I wanted to benefit others.

He got me thinking. How could I build my business the way I lived life? I started by intentionally noticing how I enjoyed (and was successful) connecting in my personal life. I started noticing the things I enjoyed doing and then considered how they might be building blocks for my business.

As I looked at my business from this perspective, it started to feel manageable. I put up a paper on my refrigerator and would add ideas while I was cooking or cleaning. It made me realize that business was about intentional connections that provide value to my community. Instead of thinking about getting business, I thought about how could I share my message and my work. Without much effort my list got so long that I created categories so I could see how the activities fit together.

As I made my list, four groupings emerged:

  1. Ways to demonstrate expertise.
  2. Being part of community
  3. Cultivating meaningful connections
  4. Having an ongoing presence

What I realized was that doing one thing in each of these four categories ensured that I was doing the important elements of growing a business. Writing letters became a newsletter. Producing theater performances became workshops and special community events. Hanging out with people I really enjoyed and sharing our common visions became “tea dates” with leaders I respected. Instead of marketing, I was building partnerships and providing a valued service. Within a matter of months people were coming my way, being sent by others who I respected.

So now it’s your turn.

What do you enjoy doing? Take a moment and write 3 -5 things for each category. Then choose the ones that feel the most doable for you. Those are the ones that you will do consistently and repeatedly. And remember, offer things that will benefit who you serve rather than sell what you do. That way you’re sure to provide value rather than sales pitches. And your name will be passed along to places you didn’t even imagine!

About Carolyn

Carolyn has traveled the world wearing many hats—community developer, theater producer, artist, activist, teacher, business owner, speaker and coach. Since 1999, she has helped thousands of entrepreneurs, business owners, and change makers make a successful living doing what they love. Her 2-part workshop An Insider’s Secrets to Getting Great Customers to Come to You starts next Wednesday. Reserve your spot now.

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