Resist the urge to cast the wide net
The time you have to focus on business development is limited. Whether it's one hour a week or fifty, in a small firm or a large one, you have to make the most of your available time.
As you develop your business development goals and targets, resist the urge to go big. Don't make the long list of all of the clients you want to target within a certain market, within a geographical radius, or within any other category. Every firm I know has made lists like these and then let them collect dust. Or they did some initial outreach to the list, but then weren't able to follow up and keep in touch. Rarely does casting the wide net bring you results, unless you have an unlimited amount of time to dedicate to its maintenance.
So what's the alternative? Take the targeted approach. You want to find the clients who are planning to buy your services within a certain window of time. For architecture, the ideal window is about six months. That gives you enough time to make contact, introduce your firm, have a meeting, lean about client concerns, position your firm, and build a relationship--all before a request for proposal lands in your inbox.
Depending on the market sectors in which you work, you can find these clients in a multitude of ways. If you do public work, you can review the capital improvement plans of a city, agency, college, or university, and it will tell you about upcoming projects.
For private clients, you need to rely on your own network. Ask your existing clients, previous clients, consultants, colleagues in parallel industries, and everyone you meet if they know of anyone who needs or plans to hire someone who provides your services. Make this a regular practice, and you will reap the benefits.
Need help? Let's talk about how Turquoise Marketing can support your business development efforts.