Start a local outreach program to find prospects and collaborators
Use a local outreach program to connect with potential new clients or professional contacts
Maybe you need some new leads for your business? Maybe you need a new partner to assist in your artistic project? Maybe you need to find a new dentist?
Q: What is a common thread between all of these networking needs?
- A: They all require the cooperation of other people that you may not know yet.
- A: These people all live in your area
- A: You can help them, they can help you
Recently, I have been working to recruit some new creative partners for my own business needs. Because I’m in the process right now, I figured, “why not share my methods and provide some content for others?”
Determine precisely what you’re looking for and who can provide it
Currently I need some sort of media experts, someone behind a camera, whether it's video fo, um, photography, capturing audio, those kinds of things because I want to start an interviewing service that helps generate a lot of content and promotes yourself on the back end of a Google search result for your name. So I'm looking for professionals and I basically have no one in my local area that I can work with. They have some other folks I know around the state and around the country that could help with this, but I don't know anyone locally.
Where to begin when setting out to connect with local partners
OUTREACH = The act of initiating communication.
Let’s expand upon that definition just a bit more now.
OUTREACH = The act of initiating communication with unfamiliar people to propose a mutually beneficial relationship, for the short or long term.
- Create a management system for contact info with checkmarks
- Search around for people/businesses that might fit your criteria
- Outline a loose introductory message that you can deliver by phone or in writing
- Start calling/messaging, marking names off the list as you go
Build a simple database (aka a table or chart) to collect contact info and track contact
This is really just a simplified data table to organize the contact information you gather when researching your contacts.
You can totally create this tracking table with pen and paper if you want (I'm not one for penmanship). What's important is to keep all the details in one place and the ability to "tick" off each name on the last after you've made contact.
Fields to include for your outreach database as table headers
- Have Contacted = Your checkbox to mark once you’ve called or sent a message
- Name = A person’s name (may be left blank if you only know the business)
- Business Name = A business’s name (may be left blank if you only know the person or if they don’t operate as a business)
- Email = Email address
- Phone = Phone number
- Contact Webpage = I generally grab the URL link from their website for the contact page just in case other methods of contact have failed and I need to use their web form
Go forth and Search for qualified people to populate your contact list with
There really is no limit to "How Many" contacts you should populate your database with. Remember, you do need to actually make an attempt to contact these people by phone or message, so don't procrastinate by scraping every last detail of professionals in your niche living within the 3 surrounding zip codes.
Use Google Online Search, ask people you know, check social networks, and generally sniff around for potential candidates.
Build out your list to at least 10 names before moving on.
Outline a simple message to guide your first contact
So you've determined that you need a certain kind of person to work with you on a certain kind of task. Great! Now, how are you going to ask them to partner up with you? You'll want to put some thought into the general approach you'll take when making contact with these people for the first time.
In almost all cases, what you're really looking to get out of this other person is permission to speak to them for an extended period of time, to elaborate on your needs and ascertain what you can do to help them in exchange for their efforts. Often times, for me, this just boils down to asking for an hour-long in-person meeting somewhere.
What follows is an example of a message outline I use when cold calling potential partners for collaboration on a creative project.
- Confirm who they ask if they have experience in the area you need help in
- Communicate who you are what it is you're looking for
- Basically saying, "I have an idea I'd like to explore and I'm looking for someone like you to help guide me"
- Make the pitch
- Closing statement, "If you're interested, I'd love to sit down for an hour and see if there's any type of partnership potential here, Would that interest you?
It's now your job to create your own message outline that fits the type of person and help you're seeking to acquire. You can follow my outline roughly, but adapting to your scenario will serve you best.
Make the Contact, Make the Call
This is your contact method priority order for delivering your message.
- Pick up your Phone and call (I know you have a phone)
- Leave a message
- Send an email
- Message on website or social media
Let the magic happen from here. Persistence and authenticity are key from now on.
Simply check names off the list once you've made genuine contact with the other person.
Do space out your rounds of contact into a manageable cadence so you don't exhaust the entire list on your first ay. Make 5 calls a day, for example. Stick with the program and follow up where you need to until a decision is made.