My consulting network is just fine but I'd like to build out some more relationships with other types of businesses. What are some good ways to locate and cultivate such businesses?
Sometimes we focus so much on close-in relationships with other consultants that we forget that a strong network is built on a base of different businesses unlike our own. This means more than just other professionals like accountants, lawyers and other presumably direct referral sources. Your network can also be of people who can use your services and support as well as providers of services you use, but not obvious network candidates.
Set a goal of developing a dozen new relationships over the next three months (an average of one a week). Look in two places. First, reconnect to people you respect and have worked with in the past who are not consultants. If you thought highly of them before, they are likely to still be in sync with you now. Second, think of people who would benefit from your services but whom you don’t think of as clients. These might include sports club proprietors, auto dealers, commercial real estate brokers, travel agents, and engineers. Each of these might well use your management consulting services but perhaps not in the core area of your practice. Closer relationships with these businesses will give you both insight onto a broader set of businesses as well as an opportunity to provide advice to help them in their businesses.Tip:
Plan an open house or event hosted by yourself or with one or two colleagues. It's OK to present this as a networking event but make it clear that it is not intended as a hard core business development event, just a get to know you event. To make the introductions "sticky," arrange with some other attendees to host the next event a month or two later. It does take some effort to facilitate several of these different networks at one time but you will jump start your network and get better known well outside your traditional networks. © 2009 Institute of Management Consultants USA