This page is a companion to the BizDev Boost Podcast Series, Episode 2. In this episode, I reviewed a couple of tips on how to identify the opportunities that show up in conversations. The point of this series is to help those people who are business developing for their own businesses or other organizations. It’s my aim to help others learn how to connect like a Frontrunner!
Check the podcast link above for the context on how to spot these conversation “gems” that are rich with potential. Below you’ll find the basic tips and some examples: (More examples on the podcast)
Tip #1) Look broader than what the conversation was set up for.
When you’re on a road trip and looking for a specific landmark to help you find your destination, you are narrowing your focus. You’ll likely find your destination, but, will you miss something pretty amazing? In the case of business development, you want to open your mind past what you think the conversation holds for you or the party for whom you set up the call. A single conversation could hold 3 or 4 different opportunities and those opportunities could extend well beyond the people on the actual call. Here are some examples from my own experience:
I set up a call some time ago between the CEO of a stem cell R & D company based in the US but with clinics in several locations around the world and a Nigerian doctor and NGO founder who was working on a trial using a neutraceutical to treat children with sickle cell disease. The conversation was set up to explore a potential partnership, but, what it did, was spark an idea in me for an introduction between the CEO and the founder of a medical university who was busy creating deals all over Africa for building universities. As of this writing, the medical university founder just returned from attending the opening of one of the stem cell company’s facilities in India at the invitation, of course, of the CEO. Partnership talks continue.
When the UN Ambassador from Pakistan I interviewed this summer decided to help train up-and-coming diplomats that I had in my network, an interesting new partnership formed. Along with introductions that are helping with curriculum and a headquarters for the training, doors began to open for collaboration between us for her to contract for private consulting services for Ambassador-bound NGO leaders I had in my network. Add to that some potential leadership opportunities that have begun to develop with an African country and some introductions I would never have thought of initially, and this expansion from the first conversation has taken wing.
Tip #2) Know the markets of all the parties on the call.
Knowing the “asset pool” of each party on the call will give you leverage in figuring out the opportunities and benefits of those included in the conversation. Knowing how they’d like to expand or redirect their audience interests would also be key. Examples of how this becomes a serious benefit…
During an introductory call with a telemedicine client, her COO mentioned his background and professional network in the corrections space. Prisons and telemedicine? Could that work? I think so! With that bit of info, the next phone call was with a fellow business developer (yes, I do work with other developers) who I knew had connections in the corrections space. The idea – let’s expand our opportunities in this space and see what we can do.
I wanted to catch up with a member of my network I hadn’t spoken to in a while. I knew she had been working with her husband on his book and film deals. I figured I might get some direction from her for a client who specifically asked for help in finding a film producer. During the call, my network member indicated that she was tired of all the runaround and “unethical” behaviors and contracts of many of the people she was having to deal with, so she decided to take over “agenting” duties. Well, that was totally unexpected. So, in my mind, the call shifted from seeking advice to moving her to introduction to my client, which, by the way, potentially could fill another item on my client’s checklist. My network member’s skills are pretty amazing. She has great connections in the right places and has her own book contracts with a known publisher going now. More importantly, she knew more film directors than I had any idea. I set up the call between her and my client. It was a great call and communications are ongoing.
So, for both of these tips, it really is all about gathering information, knowing the markets of the people in conversations, and being open to what you are hearing. If you think you are hearing something that sounds like a coincidence or even if it is something that strikes you odd, unique, or unusual…don’t disregard it…it’s a clue.
Reminder: I share other examples on the podcast, so check it out (link at the top).
More next time. Happy Frontrunning!