When I asked you to send in your questions about what you most wanted to know about consulting many of you asked, *How do I begin.* And *How do I get clients.* One way to begin is to speak at the Learning Annex or other Adult Learning Centers. These centers offer classes in everything from buying real estate to becoming a screenwriter and everything in-between. They can be a lucrative place to start a consulting practice--if you know how to work the system.
1. Know the marketplace.
In any industry you need to know what your competitors offer and where you fill the gaps between your products and services and theirs. Pick up a Learning Annex catalog in your area and see what's *hot*. In
2. Pitch your class.
Once you know the marketplace and your place in it you pitch an idea for a class that your catalog doesn't have. Do a search on the Internet. See how people language what they do. Search also for articles that pertain to your industry. Find a twist on an idea that's proven successful and send it on to the program director. One of my client's class was rejected at The Learning Annex, but once we changed the title and created bullet points in the format of the catalog it got accepted at all the Learning Annex's nationwide--the very next day. It was the same information, just packaged differently to suit the marketplace.
3. Teach your class.
Once you've secured your class make sure it's information that's fascinating and fresh. Create interactive activities and encourage participation as people learn best when they're actually doing or speaking. Use examples from your own experience, readings, insights, professional and family life. The specifics are what make your subject pop. For example, in the first Learning Annex Class I taught called, *Get on the Fast-Track to Fame* about how to ramp up your publicity campaign quickly, I discussed the 4 Ps--Plan, Prepare, Practice, and Promote which are the foundation of a good publicity plan. For each P I gave an example of how I helped clients develop and implement a marketing plan, then get media placements (get interviewed in print and broadcast) that resulted in a dramatic increase in their business--including doubling and tripling book and product sales.
4. Promote your products and services seamlessly.
Just like when I media coach people I recommend that you have success stories that pertain to your topic and help you make a point interwoven with your facts and information. Lots of times people don't really understand what it is you do--or that you're available for consulting or coaching. By giving examples of how you've helped your clients and customers people automatically *get it*. At the end of the class if no one asks about your services say, *One of the questions people frequently ask is, how can they work with me one on one or with their team?* Then answer it so people know exactly how they can hire you and what their next steps are.
5. Secure testimonials.
Have participants fill out evaluations so you'll know what worked and what didn't. You'll quickly be able to improve your class and understand what matters most to your prospective clients. You'll also be able to see where you can assist them better through your consulting and coaching. You can also use those testimonials on your website and on the phone to get new clients. Happy customers and referrals are the best way to get business.
Copyright (c) 2006 by Susan Harrow. All rights reserved.
[Reprinted with permission]