This morning I was on a conference call with a client who was talking with his team about a pretty familiar situation known as The Consultant’s Dilemma. I started thinking a bit about it afterward because it’s such a common situation that can cause some serious problems with the development of consulting businesses. For those who are unfamiliar with the Dilemma, it goes a little something like this:
- You start your consulting practice and you’re in high biz dev mode. You’re going to networking events, lunches and coffees, you’re picking up the phone and looking for that first (or next) client.
- After a lot of hard work, you bring on that client and end up working on whatever project you negotiate with them and, because you’re working so hard on those deliverables, you miss a few networking events, you forget to schedule meetings with referral partners and, although you’re really busy with the work that is paying you today, you’re not doing any of the work that will pay you tomorrow.
- Your engagement with the last client ends and you’re forced back into the “hustle” of business development scrambling to find the next client that will bring in your next few months’ paycheck.
Lather, rinse, repeat.
Whether or not you’re a consultant you’ve probably experienced this at some point in your business development – it’s unbelievably common. So much so that I’m surprised that these businesses actually make it. And frankly, it’s why a lot of them don’t.
So how do you avoid this business roller coaster? There are a few things that you can do to help keep the business development moving even if you don’t have time to do it as often as you should be.
Use Social Media
Everyone’s on Facebook these days and most professionals are on LinkedIn, too. These are easy tools that you can use to post relevant industry articles, keep in touch with contacts and have the lower level business development conversations that you’d have over a cup of coffee without having to leave your office. It’s more than likely that you’ll have to meet people face to face to get any real business done but if you use your social media accounts well you’ll be able to focus your time away from your current projects on potential deals that will actually close.
Send Regular Emails
Set up an email campaign and start sending regular emails out to your contact list. It doesn’t have to be a groundbreaking email campaign, you can even use other people’s content to populate it, just get your name in front of your contacts on a regular basis – be it once per week or once per month – so that they continue to think of you when you’re head has to stay buried in your project work.
Keep (at least) One Hour Per Day Project Free
Whether it’s breakfast, lunch, happy hour or sometime in between, find an hour and use it for something other than project work. Schedule it in your calendar and make sure it’s out of the office. Make sure you have somewhere to go where you can meet with the people who will lead to your next round of projects or just network with new people. Whatever you do, make sure you don’t disappear completely.
Don’t fall victim to the Consultant’s Dilemma. Keep looking for your next piece of business!