Remember back in grade school when the teacher asked you to hold hands with someone on field trips? The idea behind the buddy system is that it’s harder to get lost when there are two of you. When you get into trouble, your buddy can help you, or find someone else who can.
Maybe you could use your sales and marketing with the buddy system. The constant challenges you encounter as a self-employed professional make sales and marketing a difficult road to travel alone. Here’s why and how to consider working with a marketing buddy.
1. Having a buddy can keep you motivated, focused, and supported.
Meeting regularly with another person provides focus and accountability. When you commit to your buddy that you will take certain steps and report back, you are more likely to stay focused on those tasks until they are accomplished.
A buddy can offer new perspective on your progress or challenges. Just hearing your problem restated by another person can often give you insight that will lead to a solution. Your buddy can also be a brainstorming partner and an extra pair of eyes and ears to spot opportunities.
While you could use your spouse, best friend, or a business partner as a buddy, those closest to you may not be the best choice. They may not be thrilled with how much time you spend on marketing, or may sidetrack you with other issues. You may find it more helpful to find a buddy with more detachment.
2. Establish a regular meeting time to check in about goals and plans.
You and yourbuddy can assist each other most powerfully by setting up a regular check-in, by phone or in person. Set a start and end time for your conversation. Half an hour is enough; an hour is plenty.
Each of you should make a brief report about the status of your goals, the steps you have taken since your last meeting. Keep your check-in brief and to the point, e.g., “I got one new client this week, set up three appointments to give presentations, and interviewed a designer for my new brochure.” Acknowledge each other’s progress and celebrate each other’s success.
End each session by naming what steps you will take toward achieving your goals before your next meeting. Write these steps down — both yours and your buddy’s — so you can check in about them next time.
3. Help each other solve problems with brainstorming and resource-sharing.
When you hit a roadblock, your buddy’s job is not to hand you the right answer. His or her more important role is to help you expand your thinking. Together with your buddy, make a list of possible solutions. Your buddy might also offer resources to help, such as a useful contact, website, class or book
Don’t edit the list as you are brainstorming; include anything and everything that comes up. If none of the brainstormed ideas seem right, look at each one to see if there’s something useful in it. Find just one thing you can do that will get you moving toward a solution that can help you in terms of marketing with the buddy system.
4. Keep the relationship reciprocal.
Make sure each of you gets an equal amount of time at your meetings. If you spend the whole session on one person’s problem, devote the next session to the other buddy. Keep your buddy in mind as you make new discoveries and meet new people, and share any opportunities you uncover. These can take you to the next step of marketing with the buddy system.
The buddy system works best when you do for your buddy what you would like your buddy to do for you.
C.J. Hayden is a San Francisco business coach and the author of Get Clients Now!™ A 28-Day Marketing Program for Professionals, Consultants, and Coaches. Since 1992, she’s been coaching self-employed professionals to get clients, get strategic, and get things done. C.J. has written more than 400 articles for publications and websites such as Home Business, RainToday, and About.com, and taught marketing for John F. Kennedy University, Mills College, and the U.S. Small Business Administration.
Don’t underestimate feedback. As Marshall Goldsmith said, “People will do something—including changing their behavior—only if it can be demonstrated that doing so is in their own best interests as defined by their own values.”