As a consultant, most of your work has an expiration date. The likelihood of you being in the same place, with the same clients, for the duration of your job is very low. A big skill you require to be a successful consultant is working your network. If you can’t pull yourself to the next job or client, then there is no longevity to your consulting career.
You have to maintain your relationships. This includes contacts, past clients, prospective clients, and peers that you meet along the way. Maintain your active network of people who can help you get to the next opportunity as a consultant. This means staying in touch and checking in with them. You can’t just pop up when you need something or when you are shopping for a new client. If you want genuine connections that come with great recommendations, then you truly have to have genuine relationships with those people.
Send out messages, drop in and have face to face conversations, remember birthdays, keep in touch and be available. Working your network means reminding people what you do while showing them just who you are. Slip business advice into conversations. Use your expertise. This doesn’t mean try to sell to them –it means offer advice. Show that you know what you’re talking about. When they need help with your field, who do you think they’ll turn to?
When looking for a referral or a new client, ask your connections if they know anyone who is looking. Ask if they know anyone who could use your skills. You’re not asking that person directly. You’re not constantly trying to sell to your connections. If you do that, then they won’t be your connections for very long. Maintain your network, work your network, illustrate your expertise in everyday conversations, and then have a degree of separation between that connection and the new client.
You do have to slip a little business into everyday conversations, but you don’t have to constantly sell yourself. You are networking, you are showing your worth and strengths, and you are letting things come to you as organically as possible. If you are good at what you do, and have the right network, you will have organic growth.