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An Easy, 7-Step Relationship Plan for Consulting Firms

Relationships. The lifeblood of your consulting firm, and the foundation on which 95% of advisory engagements are won. Plus, the more, strong, healthy, vibrant relationships you have, the wealthier you are.

Since “working on relationships” is a bit vague, what should your consulting firm do to strengthen personal bonds? I mean, other than sending boxes of chocolates?

An Easy, 7-Step Relationship Plan for Consulting Firms

Step 1: Who’s On the Love List?

In second grade, you were directed to give valentines to everyone in the class, not just the kids you liked. School rules no longer apply. With limited time at your disposal, you’ll lavish extra attention on only a small subset of your network. Who will receive your most loving touch this year?Pick the handful of decision-makers who can have the greatest impact on your business, the influencers who can open palace doors, and up-and-comers who could usher in big wins in the future.

Step 2: What Are Their Hearts’ Desires?

Keeping in mind Right-Side Up Thinking—consulting is about them, not you—the starting point for your relationship plan is writing down what your target contacts want. Truly, deeply, at their cores, what are their hopes and aspirations?

Look for the grand, “soft” wins, not the small, hard victories. Even the most powerful executives harbor disappointments and hunger for improvements. Are they looking for recognition? Status? Life balance? Good health? What are your targets’ wishes?

Step 3: Where’s the Stairway to Heaven?

Brainstorm how your consulting firm’s targets could achieve their dreams and wishes. Stay focused on them—it’s not quite time for you yet—and don’t worry yet whether your consulting firm can play a role.

The path to recognition could be an award. Status results from a promotion or a title. Life balance may mean more time with the kids… or perhaps it means one of the older children secures a job. Note at least one big win that would advance each of your targets toward his heart’s desire.

Step 4: Where’s Your Shining Armor?

Time for you to step up and be a hero. What can you do champion your target’s cause? Don’t give up if the answer isn’t obvious—this is what separates consulting firms that forge lifelong bonds from those who are just playing at relationships.

Could you help the adult child get an interview? Recommend your client for an award? Research a degree program? Produce a “vanity” video that highlights his accomplishments? Set yourself an ambitious goal for each of your target relationships.

Steps 5-7: Who’s Doing What, and When?

Ultimately, a plan only works if you boil it down to specifics. What tactical actions (Step 5) will your consulting firm take to achieve each relationship goal? Each step should have a person assigned (Step 6) and a due date (Step 7). Nothing fancy; just a brass tacks plan.

Is there anything else you’ll be doing to build relationships this year?

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