By: Rajesh Goel, Chief Technology Officer, Brainlink International Inc.

Very often, busines owners ask “How can I grow my business in this economy“?

The most common answer is, networking. Business Chambers, BNI, Gotham, Trade conferences, various societies, alumni groups, etc.

Many marketers will tell you ADVERTISE, use Social Networking – Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, MeetUp, etc. as a component of your outbound marketing activity (e.g. spams your friends, family and strangers you met at the last cocktail party…)

For most white-collar businesses (Accountants, Lawyers, Architects), there are legal or social norms as to why they can’t advertise or solicit as easily as Real Estate brokers, Soda makers, Car manufacturers, etc.

Frankly, if a white collar business got 500 new clients in 6 months, they might go under from the overload.  Most professional firms require 1-10 new clients a month.  Don’t believe me?  Check your sales records.  How many new clients did you get last month?  Last quarter?  Last year? Chances are, you have a long, soft-touch sales cycle.

There’s an old adage that says “Salespeople spent 90% of their time chasing new customers. Smart salespeople spend 50% of their time getting more business from existing customers.

So, how do you grow your business smartly? Datamining!  Or as we used to call it, competitive intelligence.

Keep tabs on what your

  • clients are up to – what new initiatives they’re up to?  Who are they connecting with?
  • business connections — who they know?  What they’re working on, etc.
  • find new employees or business partners
  • Research the people you’ll meet at the next trade show or conference

Here’s a PDF tutorial on using  LinkedIn as a competitive research tool