Building Your Consulting & Speaking Business

A great way to build your business is to collaborate with other speakers and consultants. Yes, you can combine your communities and mailing lists; however, what you learn from smart partners is invaluable. In this article, you can benefit from advice from the consultant’s consultant. Alan Weiss, PhD, CPAE, CMC is the author of Million Dollar Consulting and my partner in The Odd Couple® Community and The Odd Couple® Seminar for Professional Speakers, Consultants, & Coaches.

At the opening of one of our seminars, Alan Weiss gave these pieces of advice in an evening Q & A…

Q: How do I build my business?

Alan: “There has to be a market need for what you do; you have to have the competency to meet the need; and you have to have the passion to want to fulfill it. When those three things converge, you have a brilliant career.

It doesn’t matter what the economy is like; it doesn’t matter what the competition is like; it doesn’t matter what government regulation is like. The great thing about what we do is we control our own destiny.

So, look where those three things are and you have a brilliant career.”

Q: How do I stand out in the crowd of other consultants and professional speakers?

Alan: “When I started my career, quality circles were very big. I wrote an article called ‘Why Quality Circles Make No Sense.’ Completely contrary. They published it in an instant.

You don’t want to be the 457th person talking about where leaders have high integrity and they’re ethical. You want to talk about the fact, for example, that right now you have two kinds of people in leadership. You have people who are in their 50s and 60s near the top of organizations, who didn’t grow up with diversity, who didn’t grow up with high-tech, who didn’t grow up with instantaneous communications and know nothing about it.

You have a second era of leadership–people in their 30s and 40s–who have never led in down times; they’ve only led in boom economies. Now, given that juxtaposition of these senior people who aren’t used to some conditions and the next level people, you have a leadership crisis.

So, I’ve created a whole new route here. I can do that all day long. I can get anyone interested in what I have to say about leadership; or you name a topic, I’ll make it up. That’s what you have to do.

So, if you want to enter a field, whether it’s team building, or leadership, or priority setting, diversity, whatever it is, come out with your own viewpoint. Read what people have said and then decide how you’ll be slightly different.”

Q: How do I build credibility with future clients when I am still fairly young and inexperienced?

Alan: “I worked with a woman in my mentor program. She said to me, ‘My problem is this. I don’t have a college degree; I’m younger than I look; I have no experience in any of these industries. How do I overcome that?'”

I said, “How does the prospect know this?” And she said, “I tell them.”

I said, “Stop doing that. So, what you do in your case is publish. You start with position papers that you publish and put in your own press kit on your philosophy of leadership. You publish in the local newspapers. You get up and speak somewhere, for free if you have to, on leadership, and you have it taped, and you create a CD and white paper. This is what you do to create an aura of authority and accountability around yourself about whatever topic you like.

“Never feel you’re going to walk in and sell to GE. That’s not what you do. What you want is GE to come to you and say, ‘I’ve read something you’ve written.'”