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Stay in front of the people who matter

Show up, speak up, keep up.

This is one of my favorite sayings for how to do business, especially when your personality and your skills are the brand behind that business. As a small business owner, you need to keep yourself – your brand! – in front of clients and potential clients.

Here’s another saying I like.

Be seen, be gone.

Attend functions that are important to your business and talk to the people who are important to your business. Once you’ve accomplished that purpose, and thanked the host for inviting you, then it’s time to leave – as long as you don’t make your exit before or during a presentation or other sensitive moment.

Maintaining contacts is important because those contacts lead to new business opportunities. Keeping the business pipeline open and flowing is important to small business owners because just as clients come, they also go – the latter often occurring through no fault of your own.

A multinational for whom I annually received 150 or more editing assignments, for example, recently stopped sending me work. I can’t say I was surprised. They thought my rates were too high, even though they not only were less than the going market rate but the service that the rate was based upon – proof reading – very quickly expanded into rewriting. Then they frequently complained about my revisions, saying I was making corrections in passive voice. In fact, I was changing tense from past to present and voice from passive to active. Finally, it dawned on me. They didn’t know the difference between tense and voice. I can’t say I was sorry to see them go.

As I was wondering how I was going to replace that steady income, two new business opportunities presented themselves. One is in creating and maintaining content for a website for the Panama Gateway International Association, an international trade group that supports business with Panama. The other is to provide copy editing services for Atlanta Magazine Custom Media, a unit of Atlanta Magazine that provides businesses and non-profits with award-winning print and digital publishing services.

The Panama Gateway site recently launched. We’re busy now developing content to continue populating the site and to plan future iterations of the site, which will roll out in several more iterations. I just finished the first assignment for Custom Media, a 70-page “book” promoting a metro Atlanta County.

More work looks like it will be coming in through a new contact in the environmental sector. And there are others I expect I’ll hear from as needs arise on their end. All because showing up, speaking up, and keeping and being seen and being gone up are a core part of my business philosophy.

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