By Nancy Marshall

Don’t you hate getting calls from people you’ve never met before who start out by saying, “How’re you doing today?” You know right away it’s a cold call and they really could care less how your day is going. When this happens to me, I’m turned off right from the start. Cold calling rarely works. You’ve got to know someone and they’ve got to trust you before they are going to give you their business.

Think of your prospects and clients as people first, not dollar signs. A salesy, pushy person who is always trying to sell something sends people running in the other direction. A person who is willing to engage in thoughtful conversation and freely share their expertise will gain the esteem of a prospect, even if they aren’t ready to become a client right away.

It’s about creating relationships, building your reputation and carving out a niche for yourself over time. How do people think of you now? Do you they know you for your expertise? Do they look to you as a resource?

Here are five ways you can cultivate new clients … and keep your current clients happy … by showing what you know:

  1. Pursue speaking engagementsPursue speaking engagements that put you in front of your target audience. Then, craft talking points that provide information and tips your audience will be able to apply to their own organizations.
  2. Give away good ideasGive away good ideas. When I am preparing for a prospecting meeting, I always come up with two to three solid ideas that I know will help further that prospect’s business goals. I share them with no strings attached. They can take those ideas and run with them, whether they hire my firm or not.
  3. View others in your industry as partnersView others in your industry as partners, not the competition. There’s room enough for everyone. I belong to an Agency Management Network in which the “competition” gathers together twice a year from across the country to share best practices and ideas. It is professionally fulfilling, and I have definitely gotten as much industry knowledge from being a part of this group as I have given. We serve as referral sources for one another, and have partnered together on projects. I also belong to the Maine Public Relations Council which brings together public relations practitioners from across the state to share ideas and help each other out.
  4. Use networking as an opportunityUse networking as an opportunity to make yourself shine. When I meet someone, I find out as much as I can about what they do and what makes them tick. Based on what they tell me, I might suggest an association they should join, offer to make an introduction to someone in my professional circle, or use my marketing expertise to recommend a strategy they could use to grow their business. I always try to leave them with something they can remember me by. I also try to connect with them via LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook so I can stay in touch for the long term.
  5. Share some of what you knowConsider hosting a complimentary seminar. Work through your local chamber to make it happen, or set it up yourself and invite top prospects. Attendees will walk away with knowledge they can use and a taste of what you can do for them. When they need the type of service you provide, they’ll remember you.

Sharing some of what you know will make people want to do business with you. They’ll trust in your abilities and appreciate you aren’t just chasing another sale. As renowned marketing author and blogger Seth Godin said, “Being trusted is the most urgent way of building a business.” You get trusted by putting yourself and your content out there for people to read, share and respond to.

This short list of tips I’ve provided will help you turn your own industry knowledge into a prospecting tool. It’s also another tool I’ve just used to show what I know.

(Illustrations copyright NMC (c) 2015.)

Nancy Marshall is known as The PR Maven®. She is owner of Nancy Marshall Communications, one of Maine’s most well-known and longest running PR firms. You can reach Nancy at