As you are probably well aware, the strategic business game these days is all about relationships. The market is tougher, competition more prevalent, and we all need to make sure that we build and nurture relationships. One of the indicators of this is the growing popularity of networking, online and off. More and more people are realizing the truth in the old adage “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.”
Step 1: Breaking Into a Market
This is by far the hardest part of the process. As a new consultant, getting your first client in your niche is going to be the trickiest part. Convincing a company to use your unproved skills is hard, so make sure your professional experience, qualifications and other relevant skills and expertise is very well highlighted in your marketing materials!
Step 2: Do a Stand out Job
It’s not enough to get your first client though – you need to make sure that that first client is so impressed by your service, skills and expertise that they are willing to put in a good word for you. In short – make sure that you pull the rabbit out of the hat! Do this for your first few clients. Go the extra mile, put everything into delivering a top notch service, and you will develop a reputation for service excellence.
Step 3: Get Client Testimonials
After you have provided a stellar service, most clients would be willing to provide you with a reference or testimonial. Use these in your marketing materials, but remember to ask the client whether they would be willing to accept calls enquiring about your service.
Step 4: Ask for Referrals
Once you have completed a project for a client, find out if they will be willing to refer you to other companies in your niche market – they are, after all, directly involved in it! Depending on their preference, they could either introduce you to the client, or tell the potential client about your company, and leave the ball in their court. Either way, this kind of endorsement goes a long way in gaining the trust of potential clients.
Step 5: Direct Involvement
If you have managed to carry off all of the aforementioned steps, made sure your client is happy with your service, and made sure that any referrals you may have gained are also pleased with your service, chances are you will have a good relationship with your client now, and may be undertaking more projects with them.
Now would be a good time to find out whether your client is willing to take a direct role in the process, by writing a report or case study, assisting with writing of articles for industry publications, or even co authoring a book. The level of involvement will depend on your client, and the relationship you have with them.
However you use clients to build your business, the critical factor is to make sure that every client you work for walks away from the experience happy with the project. If not, you won’t be likely to get their assistance in any manner. Focus on delivering superior service, and you will find your clients more than willing to help you build your business.