Apparently I wasn't paying close enough attention, but as my clients retire or move, industries change, or companies merge, I find my list of prospective clients shrinking. How can I be sure to have a good quality contact list to assure a steady stream of prospects?
We all know that it's who you know that counts in this consulting relationship business. Whether you need cool or warm leads, having a list of prospects is only part of the issue. You also need to work on maintaining a list of referrers who both know you and know your prospects.
Technology can help in some cases. For example, business networking groups like LinkedIn now lists several hundred thousand management consultants. If you have about 100 connections, you are likely to have about 50,000 second order links and millions of third order links. Way more than you need to get to almost any prospect!
You are wise to build your contacts list as much as your prospect list. Define what kind of individuals would be good referrers. Set a target of adding 5-10 new qualified contacts each week. Capture information about each potential referrer in a managed contact list. Include demographic and personal information so you have a way to connect to them. Note their needs so you can take advantage of opportunities to contribute to the relationship.
After a year, you will have several hundred contacts. If you have categorized each one, you will have opportunities to send all contacts in your (for example) technology category an article about some new technology that they would find interesting. If you limit this to about 10-15 categories, you can nurture the relationships and stay top of mind. Tip:
Be sure to "make deposits before you make withdrawals" in the relationship bank. Actively manage your contact list, each month looking through every contact to see how you might help each contact. © 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA