Build Your Herd

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The New York Times
Small Business Summit
Breakout Sessions

A report from the networking session

Rick Frishman had these words for attendees at his summit session on the magic of the network: Build your herd because that’s the easy route to business success. Mr. Frishman, president of New York-based public relations agency Planned Television Arts and co-author of “Guerrilla Publicity: Hundreds of Sure-Fire Tactics to Get Maximum Sales for Minimum Dollars,” elaborated: “A herd is the people who feel a connection to you, who know you because you have touched their lives. They trust you, so they are in your herd.”

Celebrities have herds, as do professional athletes and politicians, of course, but what does this have to do with a small-business owner? Mr. Frishman’s message is that herding is central to small-business success: “It’s every bit as important to the Kingston, N.Y. dry cleaner or the Teaneck, N.J. lawyer,” he said.

Where exactly does herd creation start? It begins with getting known, Mr. Frishman advised. “Publicity can change your life,” he said. “It can make you rich and famous.” Rule One of winning publicity is: don’t be shy about talking to reporters and television producers. Just about any event offers the opportunity for publicity. A heavy rainfall hit your community? A roofer, for instance, could call up the local newspaper and offer tips on dealing with leaks. Get known as a quotable resource that gets you in reporters’ databases, says Mr. Frishman.

Another part of Mr. Frishman’s formula for success is old-fashioned networking. “Networking will also change your life. Go to meetings and introduce yourself to people.” Mr. Frishman says networking sometimes seems “esoteric,” but it is as easy as swapping business cards. The power of the network multiplies because “we like to do business with those we know.”

A last step in herd building, said Mr. Frishman, is finding out exactly who is in your herd. “Offer something free to people who provide you with their e-mail address and a telephone number at your Web site.” What kind of freebies? A real estate lawyer might offer a report on “Ten Closing Mistakes to Avoid,” while a landscape contractor could offer a white paper on “Autumn Garden To-Do’s — Steps for a Greener Spring.” Mr. Frishman takes his own advice. Visitors to are offered a free download of his “Million-Dollar Rolodex,” which he describes as 45 pages of contacts and information that will jump-start any publicity campaign. “Give people something of value,” said Mr. Frishman. “As word spreads, more will want to join your herd.”