At the end of 2016, we wrote about hitting the business development sweet spot. Business owners (or the person responsible for generating new business) needs to spend between 20% and 30% of their time on business development activities to maximize growth and generate sales. So, in a typical 40-hour work week, that means spending between 8 and 12 hours per week on business development activities (although it’s fine to maintain an average over the course of a month rather than a week).

The big question is, what exactly counts towards that time and what is simply a cheater’s way to pad the timesheet?

Count the following activities:

  • Face-to-face time or phone calls with business connections. Having a quick coffee with, or picking up the phone to talk to, a business connection is the best way to maintain your professional relationships.
  • Preparing marketing collateral. Writing (or speaking with a ghost writer) website updates, blog posts, newsletters, and any other marketing support material are all efforts in maintaining relationships and generating new ones.
  • Networking. This is the big one. Networking isn’t only about meeting with business prospects, it’s usually face-to-face time with a larger group of people such as attending seminars or networking events or being a member of a networking referral group that regularly meets. Referral Marketing Networks are around for one sole purpose — to facilitate networking and cross selling.

Now, here’s the great loophole when tallying up what counts towards business development activities — networking doesn’t only include business-related events, networking can be any event. Neighbourhood gatherings, family parties, school functions or golf games in Florida can all count, especially if you go in with the mindset of becoming a connector for others. A connector is the most valuable kind of networker because connectors are focused on the success of others as much as on their own advances.

Even if there are no connector relationships to be made at a particular event, be warm and open to everyone you encounter because you never know when the person next to you might be the kind of prospect you’d like to meet, or knows someone you’d like to meet.

Now that we’ve covered what you can add to your business development tally, here’s what you can’t:

  • Emailing with business connections. Email lacks the personal connection and although you spend time composing the email, you have no way of knowing whether it’s actually read.
  • Posting blogs or sending out newsletters. The writing counts, the posting or emailing is simply administrative work.
  • Travel time. Just like most companies don’t pay employees to commute to and from work, commuting to business development activities doesn’t count either.

By counting the right activities and spending the necessary time on your business development, you’re giving your business the best chance at success.

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