Executing full cycle executive search is hard-enough as it is. For most of us in the industry, the real passionate ones at least, we love “the hunt”. That feeling of satisfaction when we fill our candidate pipelines with a list of viable, qualified, “A-Players” that garners praise from our clients and ultimately leads to the perfect placement. For some of us that’s enough to spring us out of bed in the morning. For others, the real masochistic ones, it’s all about business development. Combing the market for emerging brands or age-old institutions in hopes of breaking through and forming a relationship, developing that relationship into a partnerships and winning net-new business for your company.
Sounds easy, right? It’s not! Business development is a full-time job (for the most part). One of the biggest, and most common mistakes those in a BD role can make is thinking they can do it on their off time, in between calls, or for an hour here or there on the weekends. Huge mistake. Business development takes focus, organization, strategy and, most of all, persistence. Without it you’re spinning your wheels and wasting your time. With it you are setting yourself up for what some of us, the crazy ones, find to be the most rewarding accomplishment in the recruiting industry.
A few things I’ve learned about business development that have helped in my success are as follows:
1: You have to work at it every day: This will allow you to hone your craft, understand what works (and what doesn’t), and it becomes habit. (Hint) Getting yourself organized the evening before and having a plan of attack for the morning will force you get after it first thing.
2: Don’t be afraid to tap your network: I am a firm believer that executive professionals in any industry want to help. I am fairly certain that everyone you call has been on the receiving end of networking opportunities so do not be afraid to reach out to those in your network that will offer you the best opportunity for immediate success.
3: At the end of the day, service is the most important piece of the puzzle: If you say you’re going to do something, do it! Clients, new and old, want value. If you can bring them value they will come back to you time and time again. Or at the very least call you back when you need something.
4: You’re going to get rejected. A lot. Then some more. And that’s perfectly fine: Rejection is part of the BD game but do not let that distract or deter you. If you continue to work at it, be true to yourself and your company, provide excellent service when called upon and deliver on your word, the time will come when the person on the other end of the phone will need you.
5: Be persistent: At the end of the day we are sales people. Clients expect us to work extremely hard to bring to the table the right person to fill an open headcount. They also expect us to work equally as hard for the opportunity to do so. Showing a potential new client that you are willing to do whatever it takes to earn their trust and their business will go far in establishing a solid working relationship early on.