Setting Up Your Consulting Practice

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Topic: Line Up References

You’re likely to be asked for references so it’s best to have them ready. You can ask satisfied clients if they’d write you a recommendation on LinkedIn, or even provide them a sample letter to start with.

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Line up some references and if possible, get some references in writing. Not every project, but occasionally, you will be asked to provide references. You obviously don’t want to bother senior executives that you’ve served in the past multiple times. So it’s nice to avoid that if you can. 

One idea is to ask clients that you’ve served, sometimes at the end of the project, they’d say, “This was fantastic, you know, how can we help you?” You could say, “Well, a recommendation on LinkedIn would be fantastic.” And you could even offer to help give them some bullet points to include in that recommendation on LinkedIn.

In some cases, it might be sufficient to provide future clients… just to point them to your LinkedIn profile…if you have three, or four, or half a dozen or more recommendations by past clients. You could say, “Well, look, you know, here’s this head of strategy at a client I served. He actually wrote me a recommendation on LinkedIn. It’s verifiable.” And your potential client can check that out and say, “Ah, that’s good enough.”

The next thing would be to have a written recommendation by that person — a short one page that talks about what you did. And keep that in your files. If they ask for recommendations, you can provide that first. That might avoid the need to actually reach out to that client and call them.

As a final step, it is useful to ask folks that you’ve served, “Would you be willing to be a reference for me in the future?” And if so, make sure you hold onto their contact information and keep it in one place of references that are willing to speak on my behalf. So that when you are asked for references, you have that ready to go.