External Business Development? What’s that?

When I was at Microsoft, one of my roles was “External Business Development”. Yes, I had googly eyes on what that could be (one other role was “Solution Architect Evangelist” – clearly Microsoft’s (re)naming commando is not good with role names). So based on the few years I spent in that position, let me try to summarize what it was – I think this can be beneficial for positioning yourself in some cases.

External business development is the process of providing services to a company to help them identify new business opportunities, partnerships, and collaborations. As an external business development professional, your job is to help a company expand its business by identifying and pursuing new opportunities that can increase revenue, market share, and profitability.

If you are interested in becoming an external business development professional, here are some tips on how to get started:

Develop a deep understanding of the company’s business

Before you can identify new business opportunities for a company, you need to have a thorough understanding of its current business model, products or services, target market, and competitors. This will help you identify areas where the company can expand or improve its offerings.

Build a network of contacts

As an external business development professional, your success will depend largely on your ability to build relationships and network with other professionals in your industry. Attend industry events, conferences, and trade shows, and reach out to potential partners or customers to build your network.

Conduct market research

To identify new business opportunities, you need to conduct market research to identify trends, competitors, and potential partners. This will help you develop a strategy for identifying and pursuing new opportunities.

Develop a sales pitch

Once you have identified a potential business opportunity, you need to develop a sales pitch that highlights the benefits of working with your company. This should be tailored to the specific needs of the potential partner or customer, and should emphasize the unique value that your company can offer.

Follow up and maintain relationships

Building relationships is a key part of external business development. Once you have identified potential partners or customers, it is important to follow up and maintain those relationships over time. This can help you identify new opportunities and keep your company top-of-mind when new opportunities arise.

Stay up-to-date with industry trends

As an external business development professional, it is important to stay up-to-date with industry trends, new technologies, and emerging markets. This will help you identify new opportunities and stay ahead of the competition.

External business development can be a rewarding career path for individuals with strong networking and relationship-building skills, as well as a deep understanding of their industry. By following these tips, you can help companies identify and pursue new business opportunities, while building a successful career as an external business development professional. I tried following these ideas and main thoughts, and I do consider my stint as an external business development professional a success at Microsoft – and yes, I was getting extra kudos if my solution for a problem resulted in licenses 😂

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