Have you ever had someone you don’t know contact you about a project? People think this is good fortune—but it’s not. Work doesn’t just drop into your lap.

Good fortune comes from doing all the little things right.

Successful business development is far more about building your reputation than it is about cold calls or sitting next to the right person on an airplane. The future client I met at a luncheon was interested because we had a trusted connection in common. The lobbyist who called me for a proposal got my name from someone I’d followed up with a couple of times. The association marketer hired me in part because we discovered during our first conversation that I had once worked with her daughter (and she subsequently said nice things about me).

You might have the perfect prospect in front of you, but you’re unlikely to close the deal unless you have a track record of achievement and people willing to vouch for you.

Photo by JD Hancock (Flickr).