We’ve talked many times before about developing a specific target market to help focus our networking. With a target market we can more easily determine which events to attend and which groups to join. The more tightly defined that market, the better our network can refer us. That being said, we have to be careful of falling into the trap of thinking of our target market as our “prey” or even a crop for us to harvest.

They are the people we serve.

We always have to keep that in mind. Our goal must be to make their lives easier in some way. No matter what that means for us, our focus must be on them. As soon as we try to focus on ourselves and the benefits we hope to gain, the relationship will falter.

So, how can we serve our target market?

  1. The products and services we provide. This is an obvious one. If this isn’t the case, then we had better find a different target market — one which actually needs what we have. If we don;t then we’re being more than a little dishonest about the benefits we provide. In this case, we are definitely viewing our target market as prey, led to the slaughter.
  2. The advice we provide. Going beyond the level of just a vendor, we can actually become a trusted advisor. This is fairly common with various professional fields — lawyers, accountants, etc — but, with a strong enough network to call upon, there’s no reason that anyone couldn’t become the “go to” person for any needed advice.
  3. The connections we make. Even more than advice, your network can be a resource to the group you serve. Do they need an intellectual property lawyer? What about a cleaning service for their office? What if they are looking for a private school for their kids? Do we know a school administrator for them to talk with?
  4. The knowledge we share. How valuable would we be to our market if we took time to study their particular needs and concerns? Sending them a timely article about a piece of legislation that might affect their business would probably stand us in good stead. The information doesn’t even necessarily have to be about their business. Maybe one or two individuals in our target market are deep sea anglers. If we found out about an opportunity for discount fishing excursions in the Caribbean, they would probably appreciate a heads-up.
  5. The voice we raise. What about that legislation we mentioned. Sure we could just let them know about it. We could also take action in the form of a letter, white paper, or presentation about how this ill-considered statute would have unintended consequences for the people you serve.
Remember that the better we serve them and the more we devote ourselves to their success, the more likely we are to succeed ourselves. We must go out of our way to stand out as a champion for their causes. When we’ve done enough to show ourselves as more than just another salesperson, that’s when things will start flowing our way.

Photo credit: Karl-Erik Bennion