Grab the fruit!

You’ve no doubt heard the advice to track “low-hanging fruit” as a part of your business development efforts.  That fruit is easy to identify if you have a hot prospect, someone who has a current unmet need that you can fill, who already knows you, and with whom you’ve already had a conversation about how you might help.  (Did you think of someone in that category?  Stop reading now and contact that person.  Quit delaying.)

But what if you don’t have any low-hanging fruit that’s quite that “ripe” yet?

Low-hanging fruit is equally valuable when it comes to identifying people you want to meet.  Most of us have unrecognized connections and introductions that others have offered.  That’s low-hanging fruit of a different kind.  Not as close to income as a potential client on the cusp of hiring you, but a valuable asset a step or two earlier in the process.

Pause for just a minute and list three or four people (or company representatives) who would be strong referral sources for you.  To the extent possible, identify people with whom you have some sort of natural affinity, by virtue of mutual business opportunity, affiliation, or something similar.

Next, strategize about how you can meet those people.  Who’s in the six degrees of separation between you?  (Have you checked LinkedIn?  Perhaps your separation is even less.)  Where are your natural points of overlap in activity?  Where can you create opportunities?

Alternatively, think about the organizations in which you’re active.  Who should you be getting to know better there?  It’s easy to slip into talking with the same people meeting after meeting, but your network will grow only as you find ways to build new connections.

When you can see a natural path to reach someone you want to meet, or a connection that can be developed, you have low-hanging fruit for networking.  By looking at your network through these eyes, you have an opportunity to step outside the everyday connections you’ve built to reach low-hanging fruit.

Simple, right?  Get started!

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