Earlier this year we wrote about how to broaden your professional network in the small world of sustainability consulting. As you build your peer relationships, you might be thinking you’re ready to start approaching clients.
A recent article in Harvard Business Review pushes back on the idea of a direct approach.
“Persuasion researchers know that decision-makers will often place their faith less in what is being said, and more in who is saying it,” said Steve Martin, an consultant and expert in persuasion research.
Essentially, having someone else toot your horn is the ideal way to win over someone who doesn’t know or is skeptical of your expertise and value.
It truly pays to ask for client testimonials on LinkedIn, use case study examples, provide references, and in some extreme cases, have someone else approach a decision maker on your behalf before you make a direct pitch.
When you finally do make the direct pitch, list references and high-value contacts and clients up front in your proposals.
“Avoid making the mistake of squirreling away you and your team’s credentials towards the end of an already full document. Instead, make sure they are prominently positioned up front,” said Martin.
What if you don’t have any real on-the-job experience yet? Martin says all hope is not lost. Craft your referral statements in terms of your potential – ask a trusted mentor to write about your bright future, sharp mind, and potential for being one of the best sustainability consultants in the field.
Ready to hone your consulting skills and build your sustainability network? Check out our junior consultant training programs.