**Let me start by saying this is a lengthy discussion point, since it can get rather elaborate in the directions of its general interpretations.**
I heard this quote from Jim Rohn about a year or so ago, he stated that “Your network is your net worth.” Although I didn’t give it any serious thought, it really stuck with me. Over the past six months it really started to set in as my business started to expand.
Then I truly understood the mean of what Rohn said. It hit me like a freight train. My network only goes so far, but that statement cleared up a massive grey area. It fully expansive, and It goes both ways beyond myself. The client side and the consultant (my) side.
Since the road goes both ways I have decided to break this into two sections:
Client to Consultant and Consultant to Client.
Client to Consultant
From a client’s perspective, a consultant’s network is definitely worth acknowledging. As a client your consultant has an established network to help you achieve goals no matter how small. If the consultant can’t help you directly, he may know someone or a business who can help with it. The consultant can act as a resource hub for clients. Instead of burning time trying to find someone to move forward on each individual idea, the consultant may be able handle and manage several different things though the other relationships in their network. Saving you, the client, costly time and resources.
I have had several clients say that it is nice to have someone else pick up the majority of the slack with the project they are involved with, instead of having it loom over their heads with all of the other things a business owner has to worry about in their day. That is what makes the consultant’s network relationships so important to a client. At the end of the day, both the client and the consultant realize how valuable each others time really is.
Depending on the level of professionalism the consultant has with those relationships, they may (and often do) get better rates for things than if someone were to contact that person/business directly. For example, in my network I have several photographers I work with directly. They often offer me better rates for my customers because I am bringing them business and expanding their network. Hence, the tree grows another branch. The client get quality photography at a lower rate, the photographer gets a network relationship and business, and I have built stronger relationships with both parties involved.
Even more so, you know that you can go back to the consultant (and their network) to get help in the future with further expansion and other projects. More importantly, you are now part of that network with the consultant. The consultant can refer others to you and your business and help you generate your own clients and customers that way.
Now that we’ve discussed understand just some of the value of a network from client side, we can delve deeper into the meaning on the consultant side.
Consultant to Client
More often than not, you next design consultancy job will come from a referral. You might know it better as word of mouth. As a consultant there are a couple of things you have to consider before approaching a client:
• Every relationship has value. It’s may be hard to think of something, but every connect you have in you network can be used for something. While you my not be able to utilizes every connect on every project, you can still bring something extra to the table.
• How are you going to present/cover network inclusion cost? When you do utilize a services from a member of your network, how do you handle pricing? I myself cover it in the overall cost; however, I do know others that say something along the lines of “This only covers the work I do, but i can connect you with someone that can do that for a fee.” The reason I do it my way is so the client doesn’t get hit with a surprise charge later on in the project.
• Are you and your network both available to complete this project in a timely manner? That may seem stupid, but it’s happens more often than not. In the upcoming weeks I will discuss Dedication vs Availability. You may be all for taking on another project, but are you biting off more than you can chew? also does your network partner have time? I third party hang up can make the whole project suffer.
Those just things to consider. Try a couple of ideas and see what works best for you.
Knowing these in combination with a good client analysis will help you determine how valuable your connection is to that new client. Just because you may specialize in one area doesn’t mean you can not go outside of those boundaries and offer other skills, as well as the skills of others. It is a classic case of going for the “NO.”
What I mean by going for the no is after talking to the client about what he/she/they need, propose other other things they may need that you can help them with until they say “no.” Most times there are a few things that weren’t thought of that you can offer to the client. Helps them with more options to meet more needs and gives you more income.
But your network is the most under utilized tool most people have in business. It has taken me years to realize that my network allows me to offer more than just branding, illustration, and websites. My network allows me to connect client to resources for interior designs, professional photography, catering, and even as far environmental sustainability. It all depends on what needs they have, what they need after talking to them, and what my network and I bring to the table. Again a happy client becomes another connect to offer through your network.
Like I said, most of my business comes from the old “Hey, I know a guy that does that…” and I love that. Why?
Simple. That means I have done an extremely good job of help out clients to the point they are now friends, and trust me enough to recommend me to others. How did I do it? By bringing my network to their aid as well. It is the greatest feeling you can have in business. So much so that I implemented a new program:
I give whoever my referral comes from 10% of my take home income. If i make 1500, my referral gets 150. All for connecting me to someone; for using their network to help their clients. It’s like double money. I don’t upset clients to cover it. I cover it out of my pocket. Sure that may sound bad, but we all come out ahead. And it’s easy money for the referral.
Leave me comments below or ask me any questions and I will email you back.
Recently I was working with a client, and She requested a clean basic logo for another project. So i did the usual, look up other, made some sketches, and slapped it in illustrator. Done. I got this.
Then it happened. She sends me a message along the lines of “My business partner does want me to pay for this, so he is going to make it in photoshop.” At first I reacted the most human way possible. I WAS PISSED. The F-word was thrown around my office like a bouncy ball out of a paintball gun. But then I started to cool down and think about the reasons it made me as mad as it did.
Was my work not to par? – No. or at least i don’t believe so.
Did I charge too much? – No. we hadn’t discussed price.
Maybe it was how much time i wasted. In design I don’t believe there is such thing as wasted time.
So that left me with one possible reason. I think it was the fact that I brought all my knowledge and experience to the project, The dos and dont’s. The things to know with the constantly changing digital landscape. That being said, my mind went reeling about this.
Take said logo and apply it to a site.
Now this site has to work on not only a desktop, but also a tablet and a high resolution retina display.
So now this logo that was 100px by 75px, now has to be 200px by 150px. but wait, phones are bigger with apples new releases. 3x retina display means that 100px by 75 px logo now has to be the pixel perfect size of 300 by 225. and that is just the logo. Does her business partner know this when he uses photoshop? Not saying he doesn’t, He may, hell he might be a photoshop expert. Yet the other side of the coin says he may only run at this level:
Yeah it’s bad.
So once i accepted all this I realized that this project won’t come back around. Shitty. But I can share this experience with others. It’s not your fault, nor is it the clients. Most times, they just don’t know any better. That’s why WE are the specialists. That’s why WE have the obnoxious amounts of debt. All you can do guide your client in the right direction, but you can’t force them to drive that road.
Let me know what you guys think.