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Expert with best answer

Réka

100% Recommendation Rate

57 Meetings

230 Q&A Upvotes

USD 149 / Coaching

9

How to build potential prospects / client list in consulting?

I have realized that in consulting's "up or out" system, the ability to bring in client plays a crucial role, especially for principles and partners. I am joining as a consultant (post-MBA), and I am thinking of developing a long term networking plan to build up future client base.

I'd like to seek advice on "how to coldmail / network with people who are totally out of your network circle", in addition to attending events or alumni gathering. I am thinking of meeting people from industries, PE, VC, etc, to build up a network in a city that I don't have much contact. As I am already out of school and currently not seeking new job, I'm not sure what would be the best way to position myself in the cold email letter (email or Linkedin) for a coffee chat or meet up. Would something like "I'm keen to learn from you regarding industry insight" work? What would be a suitable way to reach out to people just to develop a relationship instead of having a solid request/ discussion topic such as career advice?

Thank you so much!

I have realized that in consulting's "up or out" system, the ability to bring in client plays a crucial role, especially for principles and partners. I am joining as a consultant (post-MBA), and I am thinking of developing a long term networking plan to build up future client base.

I'd like to seek advice on "how to coldmail / network with people who are totally out of your network circle", in addition to attending events or alumni gathering. I am thinking of meeting people from industries, PE, VC, etc, to build up a network in a city that I don't have much contact. As I am already out of school and currently not seeking new job, I'm not sure what would be the best way to position myself in the cold email letter (email or Linkedin) for a coffee chat or meet up. Would something like "I'm keen to learn from you regarding industry insight" work? What would be a suitable way to reach out to people just to develop a relationship instead of having a solid request/ discussion topic such as career advice?

Thank you so much!

9 answers

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Best Answer
Book a coaching with Réka

100% Recommendation Rate

57 Meetings

230 Q&A Upvotes

USD 149 / Coaching

Hi,

I agree with Khaled, looking for ways to build a client pipeline is a problem of the "future you" :)

But I totally understand your motivation to network since - if I understand correctly - you live in a city where you don't have much contact.

Cold e-mailing through LinkedIn might work sometimes but try to use your school alumni / previous job network first, they are a lot more effective. Regarding content, when I moved to Nairobi a few months ago, I found that the "Hey, I'm new in town, I'm passionate about xyz and want to understand the local xyz landscape better" works pretty well :) Try to refer to any shared experiences in the e-mail title e.g., "ex-McKinsey consultant looking for opportunities in ..." + tip: as nerdy as it sounds, I have an excel list of all the people I contacted, whether they answered, and what were the next steps we agreed on.

If hope it helps!

Best,

Réka

Hi,

I agree with Khaled, looking for ways to build a client pipeline is a problem of the "future you" :)

But I totally understand your motivation to network since - if I understand correctly - you live in a city where you don't have much contact.

Cold e-mailing through LinkedIn might work sometimes but try to use your school alumni / previous job network first, they are a lot more effective. Regarding content, when I moved to Nairobi a few months ago, I found that the "Hey, I'm new in town, I'm passionate about xyz and want to understand the local xyz landscape better" works pretty well :) Try to refer to any shared experiences in the e-mail title e.g., "ex-McKinsey consultant looking for opportunities in ..." + tip: as nerdy as it sounds, I have an excel list of all the people I contacted, whether they answered, and what were the next steps we agreed on.

If hope it helps!

Best,

Réka

(edited)

Book a coaching with Chris

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Hi there, agreed that developing clients is a great skill to develop, even from a lower-tenured role like consultant. A few thoughts on that:

  • Before cold-emailing, I'd build my network using existing client firms; when you're staffed at a client, keep your ears open for potential engagement opportunities with other people at the same firm, that's a much easier route to setting up coffee chats, given you're already at the firm
  • As a consultant, you likely won't be able to take the conversation very far on your own; find a Partner/Principal you want to work more closely with, and whose expertise aligns with the topic, and bring them into the conversations relatively early; they'll be appreciative, and likely have you in a leadership role if the project is confirmed
  • Different firms prioritize client development earlier or later; smaller firms tend to prioritize earlier, especially boutique consulting firms

Good luck!

Hi there, agreed that developing clients is a great skill to develop, even from a lower-tenured role like consultant. A few thoughts on that:

  • Before cold-emailing, I'd build my network using existing client firms; when you're staffed at a client, keep your ears open for potential engagement opportunities with other people at the same firm, that's a much easier route to setting up coffee chats, given you're already at the firm
  • As a consultant, you likely won't be able to take the conversation very far on your own; find a Partner/Principal you want to work more closely with, and whose expertise aligns with the topic, and bring them into the conversations relatively early; they'll be appreciative, and likely have you in a leadership role if the project is confirmed
  • Different firms prioritize client development earlier or later; smaller firms tend to prioritize earlier, especially boutique consulting firms

Good luck!

Book a coaching with Vlad

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Hi,

The short answer - you should become an expert:

  1. Choose an industry or functional area and try to get most of your projects in that area. Try to get the top industry clients
  2. Start participating in the conferences on that topic
  3. Write some articles. I've seen examples of consultants writing a book on their topics

Once you become an expert in something - networking is very easy and it will fit perfectly with your career path in consulting

Best

Hi,

The short answer - you should become an expert:

  1. Choose an industry or functional area and try to get most of your projects in that area. Try to get the top industry clients
  2. Start participating in the conferences on that topic
  3. Write some articles. I've seen examples of consultants writing a book on their topics

Once you become an expert in something - networking is very easy and it will fit perfectly with your career path in consulting

Best

Book a coaching with Vai

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Great that you are thinking of this already but this is too early to think of this skill. You first need to pass through several hoops of becoming project lead, principal, and thereafter a partner

By the time you reach there, you will go through enough training within your firm on how to excel at selling. These training will likely be run by industry experts and a lot more relevant for you to develop selling skills than comments here

So don't worry about the long term networking plan just yet. Suggest to focus on one step at a time :)

Great that you are thinking of this already but this is too early to think of this skill. You first need to pass through several hoops of becoming project lead, principal, and thereafter a partner

By the time you reach there, you will go through enough training within your firm on how to excel at selling. These training will likely be run by industry experts and a lot more relevant for you to develop selling skills than comments here

So don't worry about the long term networking plan just yet. Suggest to focus on one step at a time :)

Book a coaching with Clara

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Hello!

I think it´s great that you are being proactive.

However, this is far far ahead of where you are now!

ATM, I would focus on enhancing your toolkit to be a rockstar associate after your MBA. There are much more actionable things you can do atm:

  • Excel
  • PPTX
  • etc

Hope it helps!

Cheers,

Clara

Hello!

I think it´s great that you are being proactive.

However, this is far far ahead of where you are now!

ATM, I would focus on enhancing your toolkit to be a rockstar associate after your MBA. There are much more actionable things you can do atm:

  • Excel
  • PPTX
  • etc

Hope it helps!

Cheers,

Clara

Book a coaching with Khaled

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Hi there,

Very good of you of thinking so proactively - however, this is one of the last of your concerns at this stage in your career :)

First focus on becoming a good consultant (2020-2022). Once that is done, then focus on becoming a good project manager who is able to manage your team/client/partners expectations and relationships (2022-2024) - once you have project delivery capabilities on autopilot, then a partner would take you under his/her wing to help you build you commercial skills (client relationship building, etc.)

So before thinking of the skills needed in 2024-2025, think of what is needed now ;)

Best of luck!

Khaled

Hi there,

Very good of you of thinking so proactively - however, this is one of the last of your concerns at this stage in your career :)

First focus on becoming a good consultant (2020-2022). Once that is done, then focus on becoming a good project manager who is able to manage your team/client/partners expectations and relationships (2022-2024) - once you have project delivery capabilities on autopilot, then a partner would take you under his/her wing to help you build you commercial skills (client relationship building, etc.)

So before thinking of the skills needed in 2024-2025, think of what is needed now ;)

Best of luck!

Khaled

Hi

Bringing new clients is definitely a principal / partner work. However, on top of being a great consultant, it will be always appreciated to propose business develoment opportunities. In this case, you will have to speak with the partners and see how to proceed (e.g. content to pitch, process,...)

Morever, from the very beginning, client interaction is part of the dimensions required for a good consultant. You need to build a trust relationship with your clients, gain autonomy and become the prefered point of contact. Thus, you will able to catch weak signals & spot business opportunities.

Best,

Hi

Bringing new clients is definitely a principal / partner work. However, on top of being a great consultant, it will be always appreciated to propose business develoment opportunities. In this case, you will have to speak with the partners and see how to proceed (e.g. content to pitch, process,...)

Morever, from the very beginning, client interaction is part of the dimensions required for a good consultant. You need to build a trust relationship with your clients, gain autonomy and become the prefered point of contact. Thus, you will able to catch weak signals & spot business opportunities.

Best,

Dear A,

You need to build a clear plan for your networking activity with key events which you are going to attend. Plan them in advance. Always try to get the business cards, be very polite to people. Give the first bright impression. Connect to them through LinkedIn. Become friends with them and don't forget to congratulate them on their important events, such as Birthdays or Christmas Holidays.

This is what usually works. Hope, it helps you further.

If you need any other advice, feel free to reach out


Best,
André

Dear A,

You need to build a clear plan for your networking activity with key events which you are going to attend. Plan them in advance. Always try to get the business cards, be very polite to people. Give the first bright impression. Connect to them through LinkedIn. Become friends with them and don't forget to congratulate them on their important events, such as Birthdays or Christmas Holidays.

This is what usually works. Hope, it helps you further.

If you need any other advice, feel free to reach out


Best,
André

Book a coaching with Ian

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Hi there,

Here's what people never say: Networking isn't about numbers, it's about people.

The best network isn't 100 people you've had a quick email exchange with (i.e. where you honestly couldn't care less about each other). The best network is 10, very reliable, trustworthy people with whom you've developed a strong connection.

You will build your network over time through hardwork and establishing a reputation;

Honestly, don't waste your time on events or cold-calling. Develop strong relationships with your cohort, clients, partners, friends, etc. Be known for being good.

If you so desire, create an google spreadsheet to track people (where they're at, skills, etc.) but that's the extent at which I'd go.

Networking isn't isn't a business card, it's developing a deep relationship over time.

Hi there,

Here's what people never say: Networking isn't about numbers, it's about people.

The best network isn't 100 people you've had a quick email exchange with (i.e. where you honestly couldn't care less about each other). The best network is 10, very reliable, trustworthy people with whom you've developed a strong connection.

You will build your network over time through hardwork and establishing a reputation;

Honestly, don't waste your time on events or cold-calling. Develop strong relationships with your cohort, clients, partners, friends, etc. Be known for being good.

If you so desire, create an google spreadsheet to track people (where they're at, skills, etc.) but that's the extent at which I'd go.

Networking isn't isn't a business card, it's developing a deep relationship over time.