I have found that it takes lots of time and effort to build this level of trust. I could count on my fingers and toes the number of clients that trust me to this level. But the time and effort was well spent. They probably make up 50% of my business. They are my champions. They continue to give me business and refer me to their contacts.
For the other 50% of my business, I rely heavily on what Network Scientists call “weak ties”. These are those loose connections you have with someone in another network outside your close relationships. When it comes to extending your network, weak ties are even more important than strong ties. Close friendly relationships help within your network but weak ties are far better for developing ties between networks. Your friends after all, occupy the same world that you do. Your acquaintances, on the other hand, occupy a different world. They are more likely to know someone you don’t. Weak ties are the reason we have 5 degrees of separation with every person on the planet. And they can connect you to every potential client in the world without large costs.
I think this has major implications for you as you go consulting. The trick is to stop seeing people you meet one-off as irrelevant or not worth the effort of getting to know. Think about those ‘fingers and toes’; each one started with a first meeting just like this. Start seeing each person as your passport into a whole new universe of people that you otherwise would not have access to.
Bringing people from different networks together is a neat way to start small world magic. When you build bridges using weak ties they benefit and when they benefit you benefit. Thinking like this makes membership to social networks like LinkedIn and Facebook make much more business sense. This is why I write these posts and have developed over 7,000 followers. People know me from what I write about. Some hate them and disconnect. Others love them and ask to connect. Either way it is a wonderful selection tool for reaching people who may need me.
I post these snippets of advice because I care about how consultants can make business better. It’s the same reason I wrote my book and have parcelled up all my knowledge, processes and experience gained over 25 years into 8 programs and made them available to you and other internal and external consultants who don’t have the time or resources to develop them themselves. If you know anyone else who would benefit from reading this snippet please forward it on to them.
The Consultant’s Consultant