Podcast

Episode: 411 |
David A. Fields:
Crafting Your Fishing Line:
Episode
411

HOW TO THRIVE AS AN
INDEPENDENT PROFESSIONAL

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David A. Fields

Crafting Your Fishing Line

Show Notes

 

David A.Fields is a consulting firm expert and author. He has helped hundreds of boutique and solo consulting firms grow, increase margins, and create lucrative, lifestyle-friendly businesses. This episode is taken from a session that David A. Fields led for the Umbrex and Veritux communities on how to craft your fishing line.

Key points include:

  • 06:06: The two-by-two grid
  • 08:32: Solving precise problems
  • 10:17: Mistakes in fishing lines
  • 11:07: Generic problems, generic targets, conjunctions and comets 

 

Sign up for David’s newsletter or order his book on www.DavidAFields.com.

 

One weekly email with bonus materials and summaries of each new episode:

Will Bachman 00:01
Welcome to Unleashed. I’m your host Will Bachman. And today’s episode is taken from a session that David A. Fields lead for the Umbrex and Veritux communities on how to craft your fishing line. David talks about this in his book, The irresistible consultants guide to winning clients, and he expands on it in this session. This is not the full session, we cut it off when we got to the interactive portion. What we did after David’s talk was we split into groups of two, and we had each person share their fishing line with a nother attendee, and get some feedback on it. And then vice versa. And then we came back to plenary, we did that three or four times. So if you listen to this session, you might want to go out and test your fishing line on some real humans living and breathing to give you some feedback. I also highly recommend David’s book and it also recommend visiting David’s website and signing up to get his weekly blog post in your email. It’s David A., Fields calm and it’s one of my favorite things to read every Wednesday. So without further ado, here is David A.. Fields.

David Fields 01:16
Thank you, it’s very kind of you, and welcome to everybody. I’m gonna make one logistics, suggestion, which is that you pin the the face, if you’re looking at the whole gallery, I would put it to Speaker view or put it to a view that puts me center because I don’t screenshare Exactly. What I’ll be doing is I’ll be sharing the presentation, but a lot of it’s going to be just like this, I’m just standing next to it. And I’ll be pointing to it. And so hopefully that visible to you. But if I’m a little teeny box amongst many, it will be less visible. So that’s one my my one suggestion on that. There will be occasions I’ll just make it fill the whole screen because you know why? Look at me if if you could look at the whole thing, right. So that said, also welcome. will mention, there are a lot of you who I know whom I work with. And so welcome to you, some of this will be new, what I will tell you is we’re actually not going to spend a whole lot of time diving into what’s a fishing line. My assumption is most of you already know that. So really appreciate the opportunity to be with you today. And for the most part, what we’re going to do is give you an opportunity to work on your fishing line and get feedback, get insight from your colleagues. Because I mean, you couldn’t ask for a smarter group of people than people here. So I’ll spend very few minutes doing definition type stuff. Again, my assumption is actually most of you know what a fishing line is. And the components, I’d rather show you mostly by example, but fishing line, really simply seven to 15 words, the seven to 15 words after I worked with. Okay, so I work with you can you can cut that out. And then who do you work with? Who is the target? And what problem do you solve for them? Or what’s a problem that you solve for them? That short collection of words, as all fishing lines. Now it’s really important to keep in mind is that a fishing line is not meant to get you a sale. I haven’t met too many consultants who can say something like, well, I work with CIOs who are struggling, moving their business to the cloud. And the CIO says, Oh, really? Could we sign like maybe a million dollar project with you to it just doesn’t happen. So all we’re trying to do is start conversation. When you are in conversation, you find out about opportunities. And from opportunities, you win projects. So that’s one purpose. The other purpose of a fishing line is to help you be easy to remember and refer. It is much easier to refer you to someone else. If it’s easy to remember who you work with. And what you do. Just makes it obvious, will very kindly said well, when consultants asked me Should I work with to build a firm, it’s easy to remember me why we only work with consultants. Now, that kind of narrow focus and a memorable fishing life will help. And by the way, if you have questions, wills, okay, they just throw things in the chat. All right, and if I don’t see them, I do have the chat down here. But if I don’t see it, just feel free to chime in. Also, I think all wire or Command wire one of those things depending on your might raise your hand. If you raise your hand there’s a decent chance I can see it. Let me give you a couple of examples of a fishing line and then I’m going to do To show you more examples of what doesn’t work to stave off some, some problems. This is a fishing line from a client from a number of years ago, I wills is readable. I just want a thumbs up, thumbs down. Okay, good. I work with luxury ecommerce sites that are doing well. But no, they could crush it. This is a good fishing line. So work with luxury ecommerce sites, it’s nice and specific, it’s really clear what this consultant does, right we worked with, and then it’s an interesting kind of problem statement. Words, well, your dad, he doesn’t want to work with folks who are just startups. He works with folks who are already in motion. But don’t feel like they’re doing quite well. And that’s nice and descriptive, that that’s a good job. I work with IT companies that are underperforming in the Asia Pacific region. In retrospect, that was very, it’s very simple practice that took us like six months to develop it companies that kind of brought, however, underperforming in the Asia Pacific region, is very, very specific problem. And this was a consultant who lives in Australia. And so once she got that one, she sort of encapsulated her business and not easy to remember set of words and business started coming in. Okay, so those are a couple of examples. I’m going to boil down everything about constructing a fishing line into a two by two grid. Only because I know since we are a bunch of consultants, if I don’t put a two by two grid out, I get kicked out of, you know, consulting society. So here’s your two by two grid. Target, left and right, you can have a general target, or you can have a narrow target. What about the problem you solve? These are the two parts of the of the fishing line targeting problem, generic problem, precise problem. So let me show you how you can construct a fish effective fishing line. If you have a general target, but a very precise problem, you can build an okay fishing line. It’s not awesome, but it can work if your problem is really tightly defined. There’s a consultant out in Southern California, who is an absolute expert in polymers as an example. And, and any kind of client that works in polymers is going to call call him because he solved some polymer question. The actual problem in polymers is not something I can tell you, because I can’t remember it’s too complex. If however, you have a very narrow targets, and this somewhat generic problem, that’s actually better. You will do better with a very tight target, and do more for them than a very cheap problem. And that’s because clients want industry expertise more than anything, it’s the number one thing they look for in study after study shows that both big studies were just completed some work for a firm in Puerto Rico, and the same thing came out. So industry expertise, and narrow target will help. And then of course, the biggest check mark is up here, precise problem and a very narrow target. If you solve a very precise problem for a narrow target for a certain industry, you can build one heck of a consulting firm. Now how narrow is narrow. If there are at least a few 100 targets, you’re fine. give you just a couple of examples to explain that or show. Is that true? We work with a firm out of Manhattan accent. Well, that does solves back end operations problems for insurance agencies. Okay, insurance agencies really specific Oh, sorry, PNC insurance agencies, really specific back end operations problems. That’s a nine figure consulting practice. Okay, um, we, we work with a firm that’s, you know, it’s funny to say where firms are right now because everybody’s everywhere, in you know, post pandemic world but out of the Midwest, they only work with health care providers. So health care providers, sick hospitals, hospital systems, solving operations issues. That’s another nine figure consulting practice. Narrow target precise and nine figures you can be started to broad, precise problem, okay. Do not do this general target general problem is my big x for you. Okay, Everything else, I’m just going to show you a few examples and let you know some common mistakes, because in a few minutes, you’re going to work on your fishing line or the next iteration of your fishing line. And you may as well avoid these mistakes, too long, more than 15 words. And by the way, every one of these is real. These are all fishing lines that have been submitted during programs. I help executives and small, midsize and large companies to use the tools of leadership to grow their business, create new revenue and unlock their people’s potential. I’m sure that’s true, but I forgotten what you said. Way too long. Not memorable. Okay. too generic. I see a lot of this. I help executives in companies. Okay, as they grow their business, increase revenue and boost profits. Yeah, not. It’s so generic, it says nothing. Sometimes I You see, instead of executives, in companies, you see leaders, I help leaders. Okay, so just to be clear, anyone who has graduated college, and many who had not considered themselves to be a leader, so you might be fresh out of school in your first job, and like I’m a leader. Okay, so that doesn’t, that doesn’t help at all. Don’t be generic, generic problems, generic targets, not help it includes conjunctions, and comets. Give you an example. This is actually was where one of our current clients was. We work in energy mining, chemicals and oil and gas, on strategy, innovation and operational excellence. comma, comma, and comma, comma, and every comma, every conjunction lowers the power of your fishing line by half. Because people can’t keep it all in mind, they can’t remember it. Just stand for something. Alright, so we’re focusing. Again, feel free to ask questions. But if it’s all good, we’ll just go with this. Here’s another mistake, trying to explain everything you do. This is an understandable feeling that you have that you want to explain everything you do. That way, you’ve got the best chance of saying something that the person that you’re talking with might want. That’s understandable. Unfortunately, it’s not helpful. It won’t help you. Yeah, and this is real. I work with consumer tech and media companies who need to help prioritize the growth through digital channels. And, and I work with consumer companies who need help prioritizing, prioritizing a broad portfolio of growth initiatives. Okay, so we’ve already violated all sorts of sits too long. We’ve got conjunctions in there. This, I understand why the consultant wrote this. They’re hoping that if they say enough that the person listening will go, oh, okay, I do one of those things. The challenge is, it actually makes you less memorable and makes you look less like an expert in any way. So don’t try to explain everything you do. And here’s a bonus tip that most people don’t realize, you actually don’t need to emphasize the primary thing you do. So emphasizing the primary thing you do, rather than what will get you in the door and into conversation. Here’s an example. We work with senior executives at financial services firms. Okay. You know, just so you know, at least it’s a defined target to create strategic clarity on their most important problems. Here’s the the challenge. Creating strategic clarity on the most important problems is really generic. And it’s hard to sell that. And as an executive to say, Well, I’m just completely unclear. I’m not very good at clarity. That’s a bit of a tough sell. That may be in fact, what the consulting firm does, and I know it is, this is what the firm does. It’s not a good fishing line. It doesn’t get you into conversation. And remember, that’s the point of the fishing line. Your fishing line does not have to communicate what you do most. Ours does not. Our fishing line revolves around winning more projects from more clients at higher fees, business develop. And the reason is because that creates conversation. That’s only that’s 30%. If, if at this point, even 30% of what we do. We just scaling. We just grow firms, but growing firms is actually not as good, efficient. Okay, so you don’t have to emphasize a primary thing you do emphasize what will get you into conversation. A few more examples. Right. Any questions or no? Yeah, this is just like to clear. All right, perfect. We work with CIOs who have purchased. Sorry, what was your question? Right. We work with CIOs who have purchased BMC Remedy for their company and need help optimizing. That’s a good fishing line. This firm base just had in DC we work with to clean up to narrow and they just sold. there’s a there’s a lot of transactions right now. And the owner did really well out of this, especially considering BMC Remedy apparently is dying. It’s very, very specific. We work with CIOs, okay. That’s a little General, but at least the function is well defined. Purchased BMC Remedy. Wow. Now we’re talking in narrow situation. Again, nice, nice practice. This is a, you know, low eight figure, kind of practice. Alright. We work with telecom companies that have recently acquired assets and know their colo costs are too high. Talk about specific. Talking about specific and also, you know, just shy of $10 million dollars for that firm based on that. Okay, because if you’re in telecommunications and you have acquired, if your Charter Communications, and you’ve acquired a small telecom company, there are all these leased assets or something I don’t know. But there’s millions of dollars of wasted there and they know it. We work with small insurance agencies, we need to streamline their policy review burden. Nice and tight small insurance agencies need to streamline their policy review Burt. That’s a nine figure business. I think I’ve got one more. We help CTO CTOs move their company’s data to the cloud rather than renew a data center lease. We’re new on this just so you know, this is low, seven figures. Nice fishing line. It’s, you know, in finding that problem, what is driving the move to the cloud? Is data lease, data center leases coming? Do you got it? Now we know a problem of catalytic events that we can, if we put it out there, if someone else is running into it, we, you know, I say to will, we’ll run into someone who’s saying, you know, talks about cloud and conversation and you know, shooting the data centers. He goes, wait, I remember somebody work data centers. And that’s how that works. Okay. So here’s what we’re gonna do. I’m going to give you four minutes, might take 40, but we’re gonna give you four to develop at least a couple of solid working versions of your fishing line, and come up with a narrow target and a precise problem. And then consider if you have time, if you just whip it off. You’re like, Man, that was easy. Think about what you would say next. If someone said, Oh, really? That’s interesting. Tell me more. Okay, so question, Julie. David, once you have a great fishing line, do you need do you build a version for the cocktail party in a less subject? No, not really. So less expertise driven? No, just do what you do. Make it easy to for you to say and repeat over and over and over again. If someone’s like, you do what? I have no idea what that means. That’s okay. That is all right. Good question. Okay, I’m Cobain’s. I’m going to put myself on mute. I’m going to give you a few minutes and get to work.

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