Here is a thirteen-step business development plan for IT professionals and consultants. It will help you become expert in your field and attract all clients you need:
1. Identify your niche. Without a niche, it is impossible to aim your business development efforts effectively. You waste time and money chasing too many prospects. On other hand, by choosing a niche, you can reach your prospects more efficiently, develop more complete solutions, and ultimately become an established expert much more easily.
It may seem counterintuitive, but choosing a niche INCREASES number of clients you attract, while REDUCING number of prospects that you try to reach. There are two parts to a niche. First, identify services you want to offer. Second, identify clients you want to hire you. You can identify clients by their industry (e.g. banking), demography (e.g. executives, home computer users), geography (e.g. San Diego), or interests (e.g. travel).
2. Identify compelling problem you solve. Prospects need a reason to call an IT professional to help them. No problem, no business. Develop a solid understanding of problems your target market faces, what these problems cost, and your solution.
3. Identify your edge compared to competition. In most cases, it is nearly impossible for prospects to tell one IT professionals from another. Find a way to differentiate your services by adding more value, being more efficient, offering more complete solutions, being consistent, taking risk away from client or by providing additional support or guarantees.
4. Compile a mailing list that allows you to stay in touch and follow up. The list should include past clients, current clients, prospects, referral sources, and influential people that can get your name out there (e.g. editors). This database is most valuable tool in your business development tool kit.
5. Develop a series of informational messages that you can offer to prospects and clients. A web developer might offer a report entitled, "Seven secrets to designing a web site that will triple your revenue." A systems integrator might develop an audio CD called, "The ten dirty secrets in integration business that other firms don't want you to know." A networking pro might offer a piece entitled, "Nine ways to prevent a system failure that dooms your business." Make sure that these pieces identify a compelling problem, offer a solution that works, and gives examples of how you have helped in these situations so that prospect associates you with solution. Longer pieces, filled with facts, are better.