In some ways, networking is an important part of getting ahead in almost any business, but networking is far more critical in some businesses than others. Consulting is one profession in which effective networking can mean the difference between success and failure. Here are three reasons why networking is essential for consultants.
- You are your product
With an electronic device, article of clothing, or other physical product, customers often have the option of testing out the product before making an investment. They will also likely reference online reviews or the opinions of friends and families first. A consultant’s product, however, is their wisdom, experience, and expertise. Much like the door-to-door salesmen of yore, you have to take your product to your market, which is where networking comes in.
- You need to connect potential clients with satisfied clients
If you are an effective consultant, chances are you have a long list of happy clients. In a perfect world, every one of those clients would tell all of their friends, family, and professional acquaintances about you and generate a long list of potential clients without you having to do a thing. However, it is unlikely that your clients will consider recommending your services unless you encourage them to do so.
While your satisfied clients may be more than willing to give you a glowing review if they are asked, the impetus is on you to more often than not put people in front of them for them to deliver that glowing review to. Networking plays a crucial role in this endeavor.
- Out of sight is out of mind
Referrals are always going to be worth their weight in gold because it means a client is coming to you with not only a general understanding of what you do but also an existing degree of confidence in your skills. You don’t have to work as hard to win them over, gain their confidence, or convince them of your worth. In order to get a steady stream of referrals, however, you need to invest some significant time in maintaining your professional relationships so you always stay right at the forefront of their minds. That way, you are the first thing satisfied clients and professional connections think of when they come across someone they think could use your services.
Networking is the most effective way for consultants to find new clients. With luck, clients will more often come to you, limiting your need to find clients yourself. Having a strong network can also benefit consultants as client needs may extend beyond your experience and expertise; those connections will prove invaluable when assisting a client with a difficult problem, leading to further satisfaction and greater potential for referrals.