Today I am sharing one of my best secrets. I’m not sure I should be doing it. It’s like sharing your secret parking spot at the best beach. If everyone knows about it, your secret will be lost. Oh well, here goes…
The hardest thing any consultant does every day is bring in the business. If you are a partner in a big consulting company, what is your top priority? Bringing in the business. Not doing the billable work. This is true for any industry that lives and dies by the billable hour and it will be true for you too.
The very last bullet point in 3 Action Steps to Generate Revenue NOW is to book meetings and phone calls with those people most likely to hire you now. I think of my networking and business development time like an investment portfolio. A mix of strategies for short and long term. A word of caution: be careful about spending too much time with people in transition. It’s easy to set up meetings with people in transition because they have plenty of time. These folks can be great connections, just keep in mind that they cannot hire you right now. I have been lucky enough to provide the introduction that landed someone a great job on several occasions. Trust me when I say these people will never forget me and they will jump at the chance to hire me for a project given the right circumstances.
Now for the big secret. Shhhhhhhh, don’t tell!
A healthy amount of your prospecting time should be spent making connections at your target companies. Take some time to sit down and identify 10-15 target companies. It may be helpful to define your target criteria first. If you’re drawing a blank, get some brainstorming help from a couple of colleagues. A glass of wine can do wonders for the idea flow. Find a way to get a warm introduction/recommendation to someone at the target company. Ideally, it’s a member of the executive team but a high-level manager with hiring authority is also fine. LinkedIn can be a great way to find someone who knows someone.
Have the person you know make a phone call or send an introductory email to your target. Give the person a head start by sending them a pre-written introductory email about yourself. They can copy it word-for-word or edit to suit themselves.
Follow up with your target as soon as the introduction is made. Ideally you follow up within an hour but you must follow up in less than 24 hours. Someone has done you a favor of making an introduction, take it seriously. Make sure to thank them and follow up with the outcome of the meeting.
Tell your target that you would like to set up a brief meeting to introduce yourself. Here’s what you say, “I would like to stop in and introduce myself. If you give me your Starbucks order, I’ll show up at your office to make it easy for you. I won’t take more than 15-20 minutes of your time. You name the day and time and I will be there.”
Watch the time during your meeting and honor your commitment to take no more than 15-20 minutes of their time. Interrupt the meeting and say, “I promised to take no more than 15-20 minutes of your time, should we wrap things up?” 90% of the time your target will extend the meeting and finish their latte with you.
These companies may or may not have an immediate need for you. The only way to determine that is to get in there. Sometimes once they meet you, they realize there are some things you could help with. What you are really looking for is good chemistry. That sense of, “Oh she’s sharp. I’m going to remember her and call her when we need her.” These people are also likely to refer you to their friends.
So please go ahead and use my secret method but keep it to yourself, same as you would your secret parking spot at the beach.
Happy prospecting – hope you find some gold!
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