Founder/CEO, Opus Connect
Mastering the Art of Business Development Blog Series
Article Ten: Lights, Camera, Action!
Over the past couple of months, I have been going through the steps that you should take in order to build your own Personal Business Development Plan:
- Perceive Yourself as a Business of One
- Create a Mission Statement
- Perform a SWOT Analysis
- Develop a Personal Brand Strategy
- Determine Action Items
- Create a Time Budget
- Track Your Progress
Step Five: Determine Action Items
Steps One-Four should have given you a pretty clear picture of what your goals are (short term and long term), as well as what your assets and deficits are. In Step Five, you need to synthesize that information into action items. In other words, what are some specific things that you can do in order to achieve the goals you’ve identified? Think about how you can use your strengths and opportunities, and possibly improve upon your weaknesses and threats. Consider what you need to accomplish in order to build your personal brand. Keep your mission statement in mind and ensure that your action items fall in line with that purpose.
You should begin by being overinclusive. Write down all action items that come to mind, regardless of how easy they will be to accomplish or whether they are reasonable right now. Be as clear and specific as possible and make sure your items are measurable by converting them into weekly or monthly deliverables. You should also include things like quantity or the specific type of audience you are trying to engage.
To illustrate this Step, let’s go back to our example of Jackie, the corporate lawyer who eventually wants to go in-house at a tech start-up. Please note: this is not a complete list of possible action items (that would simply take up too much space) but this should give you the idea of how to do this step. Here are some things we know about Jackie:
- She works at one of the top firms in Los Angeles in corporate law
- She is shy and has a hard time meeting new people
- She has a good network of existing contacts from Cornell and UCLA.
- She is a wine connoisseur.
- She recently got into art and frequently visits the LA County Museum of Art (LACMA)
Some of Jackie’s action items could include:
- Join the Los Angeles County Bar Association’s tech division and attend two events or meetings per month.
- Join the Young Professional Board of LACMA and attend monthly board meetings.
- Create a monthly newsletter for best values on wines and send to a “club” of relevant contacts, including college and law school friends as well as business relations.
- Create Business Development Real Estate™ in the form of a quarterly wine tasting event, hosted in one of the nicer conference rooms at the firm, and invite colleagues from the firm, law school friends and firm clients.
- Sign up for a bi-weekly public speaking coach.
Step Six: Create a Time Budget
Step Five should produce a list of all possible action items you could take to achieve your goals, and in Step Six you need to create an executable plan by whittling down that list to those items that are reasonable and beneficial for you to engage in at present. In other words, just because you can do something doesn’t mean that right now you should. Your time is precious and limited, and a time budget will ensure that you are using it for the most impactful items on your list. You can always re-evaluate your list in the future, and should plan to do this at least annually, if not more often.
So how do you determine which items you should focus on now? You need to assess the cost-benefit ratio of each item. Think about things like monetary expense, opportunity cost, how much time you actually have to spend on business development and still complete your job, and your personal happiness. You should ideally be looking for the low hanging fruit – the action items that will cost you the least but yield the highest results.
Let’s say that Jackie decides to spend 10 hours per month on business development. While she could do all of the things on her action item list above, that’s quite a lot to perform all at once and frankly, would be difficult to accomplish with her 10-hour time budget. Perhaps she might start out with the two networking events per month and the monthly newsletter. The former is likely to yield relevant results quickly, whereas the latter is easy to accomplish, involves Jackie’s hobby, and is a great way to test the waters before jumping into creating Business Development Real Estate, which is a much larger time commitment and expense.
Another example of creating time budgets might include honing the number of leads you want to add to your sales pipeline or the number of networking events you want to attend. Jackie could attend two meetings of the LA County Bar Association’s Tech Division each month, with a goal of meeting at least ten new contacts at each of those events. If she sees that she is unable to meet twenty new contacts in the course of only two events, she could consider adding another event to her time budget or finding a different action item to make up the difference so that she still gets to twenty new contacts per month.
Spend some time creating your action item list and time budget. In the next article, we will discuss how you can track these action items so that you can ensure maximum success.