My single-most effective method of generating development consulting work (and how you can do it)
I'm going to let you into a little secret here...
There's been one thing that I do once every three months, which I'm convinced is responsible for generating a large proportion of my consulting work.
And the great thing is that it only takes me about one hour every three months to do.
Drum roll, please...
It's my quarterly newsletters that I send to my entire professional network, by email, every three months.
How did I get started?
A mentor of mine (Alexandre, who unfortunately passed away a few years ago) told me a few years ago that, in simple terms, when people need a consultant, they will think of the first names in their mind who they associate with the consultant skills profile they are looking for - so the key is to stay in people's minds. "Email key people (who can hire you) every couple of months to stay in their minds".
I took that advice and already a few years back started keeping a list of "previous and potential clients" - the critical few who could really make or break my consulting business. I emailed them - all in BCC - every few months, to tell them what I had been up to and update them on my consulting availability.
Professionalising the approach
I've since professionalised this approach by creating and building a mailing list via Convertkit and expanding it to not only potential clients, but everyone within my professional network (and some from my personal network too, like mum & dad!), including the "mentors", "sponsors", and simply people I'd like to keep in touch with (this links back to some of the networking lessons that we at the IC-Hub learned back in January 2021 with Dr Martin Russell).
I spend time to craft my quarterly message in an authentic way that shares a snapshot of my personal journey, praises others, and includes calls for action for various pipeline projects and ideas. And I always close with questions like, "What's your quarterly update?", "What are you excited about?", "How can I help you?". It's morphed from a fairly narrow marketing letter to a lovely genuine way to keep in touch with a lot of people. I regularly hear people say, "I love reading your quarterly message", even from people who never reply to it. Importantly, I also tend to get a couple of new project enquiries in the days following the email.
So how can you start your own quarterly newsletter?
Here are some key steps to get started:
Compile a list of "key contacts". You can start with past, previous and potential clients. Just type them out on a note or create a group within your email provider.
Send them an update with everyone in BCC. Imagine you're writing directly to the person. Write in the second person (say "you"). Tell them what you've been up to and ask them how you can help. In the long run, it's preferable to use an email provider like Convertkit or Mailchimp. These have more features and allow people to unsubscribe. But this is the easiest way to get started, which is how I did it.
Gradually grow your list by offering to add people that you meet as a way of staying in touch.
In the long run, you'll want to embed this into a broader email marketing strategy, which we'll talk about separately at the IC-Hub. If you're interested in seeing how we do this, feel free to subscribe to Loksan's mailing list and Molly's mailing list. We'd love to see your quarterly newsletters so feel free to share examples with us via the Google Group and invite other IC-Hubbers to subscribe.