I have had many interesting consulting assignments over the years and I was recently thinking about where the business came from.
I think the first way you get business is to be looking for the business. I always use the exanple if you just looking out the window you might or might not see some birds, but if you are looking for birds you will likely see them. If you are looking for specific bird, you might not see the others or the trees. So looking for business is the first step.
However how does a specific piece of business come our way. Over the years, I have done a lot of work with North York Hydro. Some people who started with me are still doing work with the successor company. That is a relationship that spans thirty years. The work came as a result of the parents of one of my consultants having dinner with a commissioner of North York Hydro. Tom was saying hello and the guest asked Tom what he was doing. The commissioner then said he should talk to North York Hydro as they were looking for his type of consultant. Tom must have a great short version of what we were doing because the project was an amazing fit. The rest is history. We were loking for business and the opportunity presented itself.
In many cases, the work was more about being in the market place and watching for opportunites than a specific cold call. Often somebody knew we were in the business and mentioned it to somebody with a problem and they called us. How we got from the opportunity to a long term realtionship is another story.
A mining company came to us because one of my colegues took a course with one of the executives from that company. When a issue arose, he called my collegue and he passed it on to me. That was a fun project. I really enjoyed doing work with mining companies. I have been down in coal miines, salt mines, nickel mines, and copper mines. Some of the environments and processes are truly amazing.
Some of our greatest opportunities came from the most unusual places but the real key was turning that opportunity into a project. Then we provided excellent service and we were able to have a continuing relationship. I have some very fond memories of some great assignments in interesting places.
My first consulting job was on a satellite tracking station. I knew something about automatic control systems and the consulting company I was working for wanted me on this job. I sold myelf by writing a report for the client without a fee on the system. Then when they they needed somebody they called me. That was a pioneering project on communication satellites. I had a blast and they paid me for the work. I worked on three different projects over a span of five years.
I think we get business by being out there looking for it and recognizing it as it flies by the window and pursuing it. Contacts, connections, visibilty and creativity are all part of the puzzle.