Happy 2010! The year is off to a grand start - I have
heard from many of you who have told me that your 2010 is showing many signs of
the economy improving - one person I know is booking clients into May, and I am
booking out a few months (nice to be able to spell client again!).
However, many of our colleagues are not yet seeing signs of the economic
upturn, and are retooling their businesses, focusing on new markets, and
building new relationships (which is the focus for this blog).
Many of you have heard me speak that for the last 5 years,
most of my business has come from IMC members.
For instance, last week I received an e-mail from a member in
Pennsylvania referring me to a potential client who is looking for team
building and improving employee communications.
Yes, because of my position I am known, but it has come from working hard
for the Institute, volunteering in multiple roles, and getting myself known as
a "go to" person who can make them look good with their referrals - NOT because I am Chair. Each of you can do that by volunteering at the local and/or national
level -- which we know is relationship marketing.
Let's face it - ours is a relationship business. We network and form relationships
with buyers of consulting services to get hired by
them, or we volunteer at our local Chambers of Commerce and other organizations to
develop referral sources, but many of us don’t think about IMC in that
same way. In fact, it is almost the opposite. In the past, many people joined IMC with the
expectation that they would "get business," and when they didn't,
they were disappointed and resigned their membership. They forgot one of the "laws of the
universe" is you must give to get.
Question. Do you refer
business to someone you don't know?
NO! Why would I or anyone else
put our reputation on the line with someone we don't know. However, can you get to know someone by
volunteering on chapter boards and other committees? ABSOLUTELY! This is the way to become a magnet for referrals.
Maybe I'm altruistic, but I never volunteered in
IMC with the thought of what I could get out of it. However, that is exactly what has happened--
I have established and nurtured relationships which have blossomed into
excellent referrals. For
instance, Mark Haas and I have teamed on multiple proposals; when I have a question,
he and I discuss it (which frequently become the subject of one of his "Daily Tips" :) ). In a sense, Mark and I have
formed a "virtual partnership" which has been nurtured over the last
6 years I have served on the Institute's Board of Directors. Mark refers business to me that he doesn't want, and vice versa. This is one of the benefits for serving at the chapter or national level.
One of my fundamental beliefs is that members should benefit from serving at chapters, in skill
development, advice and referrals. Take for
instance the upcoming Chapter Leadership Summit in Chicago May 6-7. We are
planning a number of sessions which will benefit attendees in both
running their chapter AND running their business. Without going into details because
the agenda is not set, we are hoping to have a "prominent someone" talk
about the state of the consulting industry, Bette Price talk on how to leverage media for
publicity for yourselves and your chapters, and a well know speaker talk about the importance of leadership in chapters and our own
businesses. As you can see, we want
serving in chapters to be a win-win proposition – one which helps IMC, our
members, and YOU as chapter leadership.
So, let us modify John F. Kennedy’s famous line from
his inauguration speech, "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask
what you can do for your country"; instead, we suggest the following:
"Let us ask what we can do to help one
another, and watch us both grow and thrive.”
Take time to volunteer for your local chapter or on one
of the national committees. It will help IMC and be
an excellent experience for you, and most importantly, will help you develop your leadership / technical (business) skills, and network you in ways that will get you known and
get you more business. After all, isn't
that the biggest reason why we join a professional association?