However, those are the BD equivalent of paying for gym membership and then never darkening the door of the gym. BD is a skill that can only be honed by actually doing it, and you can digest all the theory in the world, but if you don't ever attend a BD event, what's the point?
However, you also need to be realistic: the chances of going to an event and picking up a nice juicy piece of work immediately are pretty low. Numerous weighty tomes have been written on the art of BD, including the progression from someone knowing you, to liking you, to trusting you enough to give you their custom; not trying to sell, but rather giving something away and the principle of reciprocity. It just takes time. Also, there's a place for a sales pitch, but most people don't want to be sold to, and they certainly don’t want to stand and listen to an automaton deliver a rehearsed monologue from a script. For a masterclass in how to sell, watch the scene in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel where Judi Dench's character is teaching the call centre staff how to cold-call.
However, devoting time to BD, and persisting with it, are the keys to successful BD and everyone needs to develop their own style, which to some degree will always be a matter of trial and error. I like to attend at least three BD events each week, so I use colour-coding in my diary (for me, green = BD) and if I can't see enough green appointments in my diary at the start of a week, I need to do something about it.
There's no doubt that in March and April of 2020, my diary wasn't very green, as the world stopped and we all started to learn to live with lockdown. In fact, there was no green in my diary at all for the two weeks of 23 and 30 March, and the first BD event that I attended in lockdown was on Thursday 9 April (by Zoom, obviously). April was only vaguely green, May was greener, and I'd say that by June, my diary was as green as usual. We all recall how quickly people adapted to remote working and the world of BD was no different. I've been to breakfasts and lunches, had e-coffees, attended a cocktail party, webinars, conferences, numerous quizzes and really just attended virtual versions of the events that I would have been attending anyway. In the majority of cases, the number of attendees has been higher than it was in the real world, as people aren't having to factor in travelling time, and the new Zoom skills of the hosts mean that 'breakout rooms' can almost replicate the kinds of huddle that humans tend towards in a crowded room.
So, aside from the usual eternal rules of BD, what are the additional 'covid-19 rules of BD'? By trial and error I have worked out (and none of this is earth-shattering stuff) that you must:
- just get out there and do it, and keep doing it (see also rule 5);
- make sure your name and the name of your business are on your Zoom (or equivalent) footer. I don't know how many times I've been to an event with someone called 'iPhone 6', which is a bit of a waste of my time and almost certainly a waste of iPhone 6's time;
- use a call-centre headset with a built in microphone. You can get them for less than £20 and to my mind they should be made compulsory. If everyone used them, there would be no awful feedback and echoes, and the world would be a much more peaceful place;
- even whilst using your newly acquired call-centre headset with built in mic for less than £20, turn off the mic when you're not speaking (and of course turn it on just before you start to speak); and
- just get out there and do it, and keep doing it (see also rule 1).