[IMGCAP(1)]It doesn’t matter if you are an accountant, attorney, banker, entrepreneur or in which business, company, industry or profession you toil.

There were three messages that were sent out loud and clear to the world of business from our recent recession:

1. Everybody has to take an active role at some level in developing new business opportunities.

2. We all have to get our hands dirty in the retention of current clients.

3. If you were out in your marketplace calling on clients and prospects previously but haven’t been out for a while (OK, a long time), get ready to suit up, fuel up and get out there again.

If you find yourself in the third category, you are not alone. However, you may find a bit of a difference in the marketplace since your last experience in attempting to round up new business. The signs have been changing for years. It’s tough these days. Harder than before.

So if someone asks you what sign you are, maybe they were part of the disco scene of the ’70s where almost all new conversations between men and women opened that way. Well, I guess I’d rather tell them I’m an Aquarius or Leo than to be one of these top 10 signs you need to get back in the market:

1. You might begin to think that your Hot Prospect list is getting cold when you see their names appearing in the obituaries.

2. You start receiving invitations to retirement parties for your contacts one week after you “finally” had the time to get caught up on your “older” correspondence and sent those people a congratulatory note on their new position.

3. The last time you placed an order for your business cards, the printers never heard of recycled paper.

4. “Hey, are we still getting $0.14 per mile when we use our car?”

5. You once called on a business prospect where the CEO’s assistant accidently spilled coffee on you and you yelled at the assistant until you were red in the face. Today, when you called on the same business prospect, that assistant is now the CEO and still remembers the shade of red of your face.

6. You went out for lunch with an old contact that you haven’t seen in years and you were the only one in the restaurant drinking a double martini before lunch.

7. You finally opened that box that’s been under your desk for years only to find 100 unopened 1988 calendars.

8. When you returned from your first outside sales call in years, you were surprised not to see any pink While You Were Out messages waiting for you.

9. When you finally mustered up the courage to cold call an office building, you created a hazmat shutdown when you walked inside the building smoking a cigarette.

10. While sitting at your desk, you turned around to your colleagues and shouted out, “Do our phones work? I haven’t gotten a call with a new business opportunity lately. Actually a long time. Could someone call the phone company?”

Don’t bother calling the phone company. Get back into the market.

Nicholas D. Keseric Jr. is the director of Practice Growth & Marketing with MPS, a Chicago-area middle-market CPA firm and can be reached at Keseric@mpscpa.com. You can also follow Nick on Twitter at @NickKeseric.

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