two business people shaking hands

I was sitting down with a couple of partners of a legal firm who I enjoy a really good relationship with.  They are great fun, highly engaging and very good at what they do.  One of the features of these two partners is how well they network, build relationships and engage with their community.  They are active at industry events as well as spending lots of time in one on ones with clients, networks and their wider community.

The impressive thing about this is their approach to these interactions.  It is not a hard sell nor a pushy approach to building relationships.  It is a long term relationship approach focussed on educating and not selling.  It comes across as genuine, authentic and relationship driven.

At a recent one on one catch-up with them, I was complimenting them on their networking skills.  Their approach is not always common in professional services firms particularly when it is done in a manner consistent with educating not selling.  The response back from one of the partners was “you don’t win work sitting at your desk”.

The comment was simple but so profound.  This key area or gap focuses around one of the Achilles heels of a lot of consultants, service providers and professional services firms.  They fail to win work as they are so focussed on the technical side of their work, the doing rather than the sales and hunting side of consulting.  This is an area that highly technical people that go out on their own, or are part of consulting practices, really struggle to grasp.   It can unfortunately mean that it prevents them from doing what they love which is consulting to clients, particularly if they are a sole trader.

It may sound simple and like common sense, but it is not common practice.  The ability to grasp the concept that you must be an outside cat, meeting outdoors and interacting with your community and clients must be in the top priorities of every service provider.  Otherwise, you run the risk of filling your days with non-client activities that add very little value to the bottom line.