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20 tips to be successful in business development

by | Apr 23, 2019

How to be successful in business development? We asked senior business developers and these are 20 tips to make you successful in your job.

How to be successful in business development is the million dollar question that every professional in the field asks him/herself daily. We wondered that too and we decided to ask some experienced business developers to give us some tips.

Forget million followers influencers. These pieces of advice come directly from business developers that face the same challenges everyday. Being in business for many years, they know what it takes to be successful at it.

Read our 20 tips to be successful in business development coming directly from professionals working on it everyday.

1. Be humble

We believe this tip deserves to be on top of the list. No matter how talented you are or how quickly you grow. Staying humble is the only way to keep growing and become better every day.

Don’t let success get over your head. Respect everyone that comes across your path and understand that you can always learn something from anyone.

2. Know your worth

In the same way as you stay humble, learn also to recognize your strengths and make use of them. As young business developers you might be still figuring out what they are. 

But learn early on in your career that everyone is able to deliver value. And you are no exception. Learn how much you are worth and make sure people know what you have to offer. 

3. Be curious

Curiosity, especially in business development, is not only a nice to have. It’s key in building the right mindset and be able to spot opportunities.

Be interested in what’s going on around you. Observe and be enthusiastic about your job. Practice curiosity at any occasion.

Check also: Top 10 Books for Business Development

4. Communication is the key

Learn early on that good communication is the basis for your success. Understand that every person is different and you need to adapt your style.

Being a good communicator means finding a common ground with your interlocutors. Make them feel understood and you’ll win them over.

5. Listen more than you talk

Next to talking, learn to listen. But really listen to what others are saying. You can get so much information and understand so much just by letting the other do the talking.

Start practicing with some of your colleagues or friends and really commit to listen to anything they say. Trust us, it sounds easier than what it is. 

6. Don’t be scared to ask questions

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Especially if you’re new in the field or in the company. Asking questions shows you care and you’re eager to learn.

Learn early on that not asking questions because you’re scared, actually damages you. It prevents you from growing and lets you stay just where you are at.

7. Get used to hearing NO

Getting a NO is a big constant in business development. After all, we try many different things to figure out what’s that one thing that actually works.

Don’t let a negative answer ruin your mood or motivation. Accept that it’s part of the process and every no is just one step closer to a yes.

8. Failure is the key to success

Just as getting NOs, failure is also part of the process. Especially if you are an entrepreneur who’s just starting. Accept this, but don’t fear it. 

You’re gonna screw up and many things will not go the way you want. But see these events as learning points and move on from that. 

9. Practice patience

The sooner you learn this lesson the better is gonna be for your future career. Working in business development requires a lot of patience.

Ours is a long term game. It’s made of trial and error. You’ll talk with many people and try many different things. Be patient, give things and people the right time.

10. Never say never

Sometimes it’s easy to get caught in this game, especially when you’re young. You might be tempted to classify things based on your current beliefs.

Don’t make this mistake. Be open to possibilities and don’t let present impressions or feelings close doors for the future.

11. Work harder

This might sound a bit obvious. However, you should never let your success or comfort make you feel you arrived at your destination. If anything, do more of what you’re doing.

Keep working, harder than before. Improve yourself and aspire to become a better version of yourself everyday. 

12. Don’t stress too much

Work hard, but don’t stress too much. Let’s be honest, a small amount of stress can be positive. It pushes you to go the extra mile.

But don’t let it get under your skin. Realize early on that the key to be successful in business development is also taking care of yourself. Stress out, but not too much!

13. Be ambitious

The real difference between a successful and an average business developer is how passionate the first one is. Have big ambitions and work towards your goals.

You can basically achieve anything you want. However, if you lack ambition you’re just gonna stay in the big pool of average professionals. Know what you want and go for it!

You might want to read: How to become Business Develoment Director.

14. Never stop learning

Being a learner is a big asset for any successful business developer. Consider yourself a toddler, even when you’re in business for decades.

Learning is what can set you apart from your peers. Be open, read books, talk to people, ask for advice and ultimately, put into practice what you learn from everyone around you.

15. Build long-lasting relationships

Focus on building long-lasting relationships. Don’t cut contacts with your university professors and friends. Or even ex-colleagues.

Realize that any contact you have today, can become an opportunity in the future. After all, you never know where life will bring you. Build a strong network.

Read also: Business Development Success: People before Profit

16. Know your target

Whether you’re already working or looking for a new job, always have your target in mind. Know precisely what you’re aiming for and that will make your life a lot easier.

Spend time understanding who or what your target is. Constantly think about it and what you can do to achieve your goals. 

17. Don’t let success get over your head

Once you manage to be successful, don’t let it get over your head. Also, don’t quit your job as soon as you get some results.

In any job you take, there is always something new to learn. Business is in constant evolution. Don’t burn opportunities of growth out of arrogance.

18. Motivate yourself daily

Bad days happen to everyone. But don’t expect people to motivate you. Your manager, your boss, your clients can motivate you only to the extent you want to motivate yourself.

Find that one thing that drives you everyday and that you can turn to anytime you feel down. Ultimately, you’re on your own and the sooner you learn that, the faster you’ll recover from temporary setbacks. 

19. Do what you love and love what you do

Don’t settle for money or success. Work on things that make you happy and fulfilled. Realize that success and financial stability are not really good drivers when it comes to your daily job. 

Eventually you’ll feel miserable and you’re not gonna be successful. Choose your job carefully, and put your passions first.

20. Master your role and the opportunities will come

Last, in our tips to be successful in business development, focus on becoming better everyday. Do whatever is in your power to master your role.

Then relax, enjoy and opportunities eventually will come. 

Join our community to get more tips to be successful in business development! 


Lucia Piseddu

Founder at The BD School

The thing I love the most in business development is its creative process. My job is to help people unleash their potential and become great at business development.

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