Competition among consultants makes new clients harder to come by these days and companies seem to take longer to hire consultants. How can I hear about opportunities as soon as possible?
Learning about potential engagements early means having someone "on the inside" looking out for you. If this isn't someone who actually works for a prospect's organization, it means having people who know the organization well - and know what you could do for them. We are talking about referrers.
First of all, let's talk about what referrers are and what they are not. They are not limited to people you approach at networking events and ask for referrals. These contacts rarely know you well enough to make effective referrals.
Instead, look for people who understand the role of a management consultant and would be able to describe both you and the value of the services you provide. We hear about how you should develop a broad list of potential referrers, such as your mail carrier, dentist, and college roommate. This may work for the best known and common professions but this approach is less effective for management consultants.
A complete referral strategy is more involved than this tip can explain but I suggest you identify a dozen people you are confident understand what you do and the value of your services. Next, provide them with a list of about a dozen target companies for which you would like provide your services and (this is important) for each company, include a short description of what service you might provide and what value each services would provide. A sentence or two for each company is about right. Tip:
The value of this exercise is two-fold, but only if you actually complete it. First, writing it down helps you focus on specific targets, services and value you might provide. Second, it puts you on record with an explicit list of referrers, with whom you should check in regularly. Once you have this list under control, meaning that people on your list are really looking out for you, consider making separate lists for different aspects of your practice. © 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA