Start a local outreach program to find prospects and collaborators

Organize a simple outreach program when you need to connect with the right people in your local area. Helpful for sales, networking, and creative project collaborations.
Last Updated:
January 20, 2020
First Published:
January 16, 2020
VIDEO: Video stream of Colton trying to define self marketing, why it matters, and who it can benefit
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Hey guys this is Colton James Townsend, coming at you with another video in the self marketing, self publishing realm, which I am a practitioner of. And today, we're getting into something that I'm just actively doing as a project, and I figured "why not?" talk about it and build some content around it. And that is Outreach. You can call it client prospecting. I am in this case looking for collaborators because I need some sort of media experts, someone behind a camera, whether it's video, 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. I have some other folks I know around the state and around the country that can help with this. But, I don't know anyone locally. So, I need photographers and videographers. How do I find them? Well, first thing to do, and obviously I work with Google search a lot, so you just kind of search for people. See who ranks really highly. See what legitimate businesses are out there that are offering those services or that are in that market you want. And you're gonna just basically start collecting some of their information so that you can start sending them emails, calling, dropping them a contact submission on their webpage, or whatever it is. So first thing, go search for them. And then, I kinda just keep a spreadsheet of that information to help me track things. You can do the same or you can just do this on paper. But Im' getting really just 5 pieces of information that I'm looking for, which is their name, of course, obviously I'm looking for people. I do want to know who they are. I want to be able to address the accordingly. And then second to that would be their business name, if they have one. A lot of in this particular industry I'm looking for are just independent and operate under their own name, which is fantastic because I try to help people promote and market their brand name, their own name. So that goes hand in hand. Anyways: name, business name, and email address for them. I like to find just hopefully a personal one. Phone number of course, because picking up the phone should be the most direct way of ever connecting with somebody, so have their phone number. And then next is, I just like to save a link to the contact form on their web page, if they have one. I don't worry about saving the website overall just in case I want to go to that contact form. Save a link there. And that's it. And I just make one little checkbox on each row for each person that's in my little tracking sheet and I just say I've made contact with them. So like, yes, I sent them an email or I talked to them on the phone. I submitted a web form. I did something. I made contact. And that's it. So that's really just the process of getting those people together and now it's time to execute and actually reach out to them and present your offer or what you're looking for and demonstrating your value a little bit and pitching your angle of maybe it is, you're just looking for a direct sale and trying to do business with somebody or you need a collaborator or whatever it is. So that I kinda break it down into five different parts in terms of how you structure that message. And very first most important thing is just to recognize them for who they are and what they do. Just finding a name and an email address somewhere and copying pasting some canned response is not that authentic or genuine. Authenticity should rule everything in this process. You're not out to scam or just for a quick sale for anything. This is a pretty intimate process. You're asking to work with people and so you should do a little bit of research and see how they're presenting themselves online and nod to that fact. So first part of that is to recognize who they are. You can mention how you found them real briefly and that helps. Next is to communicate that you're doing business in the same area, if you are looking for local collaborators, that is, which I am. I'm doing business in the same area and you're looking to connect with someone like them, and that's an important phrase "someone like them". Don't invest yourself on getting this person's response and like, "oh, they're gonna want to work with you and do whatever kind of project you have together". They'll come and meet you or anything like that. No one owes you anything. So i wouldn't invest too heavily in their buy-in to what you're offering. But you're looking for someone like them. You're looking for that kind of a role in your work or in your life that you need filled. And you could work well with and produce something beneficial from. So someone like them. Then you need to present the nature of the work you're doing, what your project is, or what you're about, what your specialty is, what your expertise is. Present that in such a way that connects with them and makes sense and then you can sort of offer or at least tease at offering what it is that you're trying to do. And then sometimes we have ideas for projects or our business and it's really complicated and there's just so much to say to help someone understand that. So don't worry about laying it all out. Something as simple as I'm testing out a new project idea in the area and am looking for someone local to work with. Beautiful. Or I have a business in mind, or I've been running a business for a long time and I need, again, people like you to do some work for me, or that I can do work for. It goes vice versa. So do present something about what you're actively pursuing, not just... I guess the worst thing you could do is to look like, if you're reaching out to them and appearing to be a legitimate lead for their regular business operations and then you try to flip that at some point and then say, "oh wait, no, I'm trying to get you to do something for me and help me out without paying you or whatever it is, or I'm trying this, hopefully you'll pay me to do this." You know, don't do that. Again, authenticity rules everything. Don't try to flip someone over an old bait and switch. Just thoroughly communicate. I shouldn't say thoroughly, but make sure to proactively communicate that you are looking to do something that's maybe outside of their normal business operations so you don't appear as a lead. That's the key. And then a brief message. This outreach, whether it's by phone or you need to leave a voicemail, maybe, or you do get a chance to talk to them on the phone, keep it brief and just mention that you'd like to discuss and follow up and then if they do you're open to full discussion, of course. And now you've generated a channel of communication with this person and hopefully they're a fit for what you're trying to accomplish in your business goals of just for your creative project. This could be for employment. This could be for any type of personal connection you need to make. But it starts online if you're totally in a new area or if you've just never reached out to these kind of people before. Just a way to start looking craft your message a little bit end with a have a great day, all the best, please send me any referrals if you think someone else is more in line with what I'm looking for. This could lead to anywhere. The important part is to start looking for people and start reaching out, basically. Put some structure around that if you want, it does help. I find it helpful, especially if you think you're going to be going after a lot of people because let's be honest this is a lot like dating. You're not gonna find the perfect person on the first try, on the first date. It might take some shopping around, and that's fine. You shouldn't be too attached to one specific person's response to you at this point in time because they could have a million other things going on and it's just not their place to be working with you and to be investing a lot of their time and effort into you're little project that maybe hasn't even taken off yet. So that's about it. I'm in the middle of this process today. We'll see how it goes. I'm hoping to keep a routine sort of contribution into this method until I find the people I need, because I do need some local people that are media production specialists in photography, videography, audio, whatever it is, because we're gonna do some good work together in interviewing and building out personal brand names with a lot of good online content. So, look forward to that. Anyways, thanks for hanging around again. Be looking forward to bringing on these new people and seeing where it goes. Alright. Take care!

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.

  1. Create a management system for contact info with checkmarks
  2. Search around for people/businesses that might fit your criteria
  3. Outline a loose introductory message that you can deliver by phone or in writing
  4. 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

Example screenshot from Google Docs showing my contact columns: contact made, name, business name, email, phone, webpage
IMAGE: Example screenshot from Google Docs showing my contact columns: contact made, name, business name, email, phone, webpage
  • 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.

  1. Confirm who they ask if they have experience in the area you need help in
  2. Communicate who you are what it is you're looking for
  3. Basically saying, "I have an idea I'd like to explore and I'm looking for someone like you to help guide me"
  4. Make the pitch
  5. 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.

  1. Pick up your Phone and call (I know you have a phone)
  2. Leave a message
  3. Send an email
  4. 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.

colton james townsend smiles for the camera with the seattle port in the background

Colton James Townsend

Storyteller and Teacher at coltonjamestownsend.com, "Fearless Story Productions" and "Wake Up & Do Me"

I live, work, and write in the fine city of Walla Walla, Washington. I help creative people and business owners publish stories and content for the web so they can achieve results online, personally and professionally. You're an expert in your field or a person with a strong story to tell — I help you broadcast your knowledge and experiences effectively. The results? Amplification.

MISSION: "Bringing Your Brilliance to the Whole Wide World"