To me, traveling has always been a hobby since I always get to learn and experience something new. This blog, however, is not about my learning but about voicing an interesting realization on how our everyday ordinary moments continuously present us with opportunities of turning them into extraordinary memories. I was recently hit by this realization on my recent travel to the States and this trip reinforced my belief that learning is directly proportional to one’s mindset.
Business is about believing, creating and communicating.
The purpose of this trip, to be specific, was to explore UX labs as we wanted one in-house. As usual, I took out my pen and started reflecting on my expansion plans for Lollypop. Generally, we get business from phone calls, mail inquiries or word of mouth as we do not adhere to usual selling strategies; for us, business is about believing, creating and communicating. We never spent our time wondering how do design agencies get clients, how they convert them et cetera. Things always took place organically for us, but I am glad to admit I was partially wrong!
While returning to Bangalore from Heathrow London Airport, I had stopped at Starbucks for a cup of coffee and I realized that I was running late to catch my flight. So, I kind of started running and suddenly noticed this gentleman who looked Indian (in unknown lands, we Indians just bond better) also running beside me in the same direction, so, I just confirmed if he was also going towards the same gate and he nodded. Thus, began the conversation and we slowed down realizing we would get there right on time. The normal exchange of general questions kicked off with what brings us to the States and what we do; I shared my discoveries of UX labs and my space in design, and unwittingly, I was acting as a strong brand ambassador for design (not Lollypop). I felt that urge of leaving an impact by demonstrating the power of design; I had an adrenaline rush as if it was the most crucial 5 minutes of my life, where I could make someone design oriented. Coming to think of it, as am writing it down I am finding it funny myself, but then I realize we do most of the things in flow, sub-consciously and are not completely aware of ourselves and our actions. He introduced himself as a founder of Soliton, a tech giant and that he had been in the service industry for more than a decade. We exchanged our cards at the security check and went our own ways.
I had quickly searched about Soliton on my mobile and was impressed with the way it had scaled and set standards in the industry. In the vast expanse of my mind, I was already picturing Ganesh as a mentor and a guide; given his experience in the service industry and the way he built Soliton, there was so much to learn from him. I knew for a fact that I was definitely keeping in touch with him.
A week later, I was surprised to have a friend request from him on LinkedIn and it was overwhelming. He later expressed his interest in redesigning Soliton’s website and we were talking business. Those, 5 minutes of passion for my work had turned into an enquiry, interesting isn’t it? Today, we have partnered with them for numerous projects and the professional journey has been amazing. For those thinking, how to get design clients on social media, LinkedIn is the best route, my friends!
This recent visit really put things in perspective for me and I began to ponder upon various other moments which have picked at the right chords too. Once, when I was dropping my children to school, few parents were standing outside the gate because authorities had announced that it would be shut for some reason. The parent standing right beside me started sharing his anguish and I accompanied him in that frustrating moment. This moment really broke the ice and we spent a few moments getting to know one another. Surprisingly enough, he introduced himself as an entrepreneur in IT space and bang, a door to new opportunities had been opened.
Other wonderful moments include a trip down to a particular barbershop, road travels, basically any place where I get to talk to others. There have been pitfalls too, instances when I literally wanted to kill myself or jump off the plane; once a person pushed me into redesigning his website on the spot and I rendered these services for free. But, then a certain amount of uncertainty always adds beauty to life.
World is my school and World is my market.
The way I look at it, good work with a great passion always pulls client. For those who are wondering how to find design clients, here are some pointers on how to ‘do-it-yourself’! Trust me, even if you’re not the aggressive sales kind, this helps.
What has worked for me on each of these occasions is that the strategy remains conversational. I have gotten to know the people involved in these chance encounters very closely. The shared experience of almost missing a flight, a familiar face at the salon, a shared moment of anguish allows people the chance to let their guard down and talk. In these initial moments of connection, always be authentic!
Contrary to popular belief, that only salesperson should know the pitch; I say all of us in the company should be a salesperson. At every point, you have to know exactly what you bring to the table. What do you do better than anyone else in a similar field? What do you do differently? Identify your edge and reinforce it during the conversation. If you are passionate about your work, it should reflect in your communication.
Once initial pleasantries have been exchanged and someone officially reaches out for your work expertise, make sure that you are well researched before you have that formal conversation. Research the people that you will work with, what they have achieved so far, what they hope to do and how you can help. This step is what sales folk call a ‘closer’ meeting, ie, a final presentation where you know you have closed or converted the client.
Doing this exercise once is not enough! You have to get out there and meet people every step of the way and speak of your work passionately every chance you get. You never know who’s listening and where one seemingly harmless exchange of words could lead.
Always reach out to people on the appropriate digital mediums to formalize your association. This will ensure that you stay in touch and will keep you updated with any new developments in their professional life, which can always lead to more opportunities in the future!
If we boil down all of my shared experiences in this blog, they all indicate that it’s just a matter of initiation and we humans tend to bond at the most uncanny situations. Finding design clients is not easy, but they are humans as well, and everybody yearns for connection! Life is extremely amusing and presents us with so many opportunities every single day but it is our perception and willingness to explore them. The more open we are to life and people around us, the better are our chances of success. There is always something to learn; I would put a stop here and sum up in one line ‘ the world is my school and the world is my market’!