Setting Up Your Consulting Practice

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Business Development

Topic: Create Human Interactions

Human interactions can be one-on-one meetings, casual conversations, small group participation or large group events. Consider joining industry groups or attending conferences.

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One way we’ve been talking about increasing your visibility is through creating content. The other primary way of increasing your visibility is by creating human interactions. There’s a variety of types of human interactions we can think about working on. 

One is one-on-one conversations, one-on-one interactions; and another one would be interactions with small groups or interactions with larger groups. So let’s talk about one-on-one. 

With one-on-one, think about the investment required on the interaction type versus the impact of the interaction type. And I’ve taken this idea from David A. Fields. I really agree with this … is that an in-person interaction is typically the highest impact that you’re gonna get. So meeting someone for coffee, meeting someone in person is a high impact, but it’s also a high cost on your time.

That person has to be really important for you to be willing to invest the time to go meet in person. For me at least, it’s 45 minutes of traveling. Then you meet the person for 45 minutes and 45 minutes back. So you’re looking at a couple hours in investment and time to meet with someone as opposed to on the other end of the spectrum.

An email is very low on time investment, but it’s also much lower on impact. The sweet spot seems to be phone calls … so phone calls, it’s a warm interaction, it’s alive, it’s a human interaction. 

It can be high impact, maybe not as high as meeting in person, but high nevertheless and requires much lower time investment. So phone calls, at least for me, are my primary focus on one on one interactions. You could also think about working to create group interactions.

So a classic that the consulting firms love to do and that we can do as well as independent consultants is to work on creating small group interactions. So in those cases, you don’t need to be the focus or the reason that people come, but people are coming because of the other people that you’ve invited.

So you might invite four or five executives to a breakfast where they have a chance to interact with one another. Executives from maybe non competing firms, but in a similar role. So heads of HR, having a chance to meet with one other. Heads of operations who aren’t competing with them and on and on, but have experiences that would be worthwhile sharing.

Then you’re listening in to the types of issues that they’re facing and you could follow up with them, “Hey, I heard that you’re having some trouble on sourcing from China or you’re having some trouble finding talent.” Follow up for them on the items that they were talking about.

Think about small groups and maybe start there before you try to go on to organizing larger gatherings of individuals. You can certainly work on going to conferences and being part of those … participating in that. And that is another way to raise your visibility. Perhaps you’re on the organizing or the membership invitation committee for a conference. 

We said before, there are two main ways of creating and raising your visibility. One is by creating content, the other is by human interactions. So let’s talk about human interactions. 

Human interactions we can think about in terms of one-on-one interactions and group interactions. One-on-one interactions you can think about the array of options of how you can interact with potential clients one-on-one. Email, phone calls, in-person meetings are three of the main ways. You could also think about text messages or on Twitter or social … LinkedIn messages. 

Think about those different aspects of the spectrum. And let’s think about it in terms of the impact of that meeting and the time investment required. So (an) in-person meeting is definitely the highest impact in terms of impact on memory and rebuilding the relationship and investing in it. Also the highest in terms of the time investment.