The consulting industry is considered one of the hardest to break into. This is because every year, more qualified candidates submit applications to top consulting firms hoping to get an interview. Even with a polished resume and an outstanding cover letter, it is easy to get into the ‘no’ pile of recruiters because of the high level of competition in the application process.
The quickest way to get a job as a consultant is by networking with the right people who can recommend you to move to the next stage of the job application. However, building a network can prove to be a bit of a challenge when starting.
In this article, we will dive into consulting networking, and the right way to network without coming off the wrong way to prospect.
But first, let’s take a look at what we will cover:
- What is Networking?
- Build meaningful connections to build a better network
- Effective Consulting Networking Strategies
What is Networking?
Networking is a process that involves making connections and building relationships with people to share advice, ask for ideas, and gain referrals. In more detail, consulting networking involves building relationships with people who are connected to, or have hiring power, in a firm to put in a recommendation for you. This is especially true if you are going for the big consulting companies: McKinsey, BCG, and Bain.
For example, when people attend consulting events to meet with people of similar interest and talk about industry trends, that’s an example of networking.
How important is networking in consulting?
The key benefit of consulting networking is to build relationships with people who you will provide value, and in turn, provide value to you too.
Networking is a major skill while building any career. It is without a doubt that consulting networking is a great propellant for starting a great career without going through the hassle of getting multiple rejection letters. Moreover, if you are an already experienced consultant, this is the path to hop on new projects.
Networking is a never-ending process. The more you network, the more you get access to building more connections and advancing your career by having more referrals. By continuously putting yourself there, you are on the safest path to your long-term career growth.
Build meaningful connections to build a better network
Networking is all about creating meaningful connections and fostering real connections with people. The main reason for networking is not to take advantage of referrals but to also provide value for people you meet.
Creating solid referral systems
The best referrals come from the people we trust or admire, who in turn, trust you. In a company, when 2- 3 employers are excited about having someone new on the project the chances of working together are very high.
Before you build a solid referral system, you have to know the right people to talk to you and how to present yourself as the right person for the job. A good referral builds automatic credibility for your personality and skillset.
Make it easy for anyone to find you
Creating an online presence attracts the right kind of people to you. To build connections, it’s easier when people can find you from a single search. If you are a consultant, you must be credible. Therefore, make sure you are available in various places online and you are the first result on Google for your name.
Stay ahead of job applications
Your final goal should be to never apply for a job. Consulting jobs should find you and not vice versa.
This is the only way to be ahead of your competition and eventually become an independent consultant.
Effective Consulting Networking Strategies
There are many strategies to network with both professionals in consulting and online consults that have just started their businesses.
When most people think of networking, they think of being pushy and constantly badgering. That is why most people tend to avoid doing it even when it is necessary.
However, with the right strategies, it is possible to connect with people without badgering and respect their time.
Use social media
One of the best ways to connect with different people is to make use of social media to network. However, before you connect with people on social media, it is important that you first optimize your social media and make it look professional. This will project you as credible and encourage people to connect with you.
Social media is the lowest effort networking strategy and is stress-free for both you and the other party.
Check your present connection
A referral starts from someone you know introduces you to someone they know. When you ask around, you might discover that a friend of a friend or family knows someone who works as a consultant. Second connections also work well in consulting networks.
Try to get introductions and nurture your already existing connections.
Networking events and conferences
The most effective way to connect is to go to the gathering of potential connections. At networking events, you can meet and get the contact of people without going through social media or other people.
I have surely met most of my connections at such events.
Join groups and communities
By joining groups and communities, you open yourself up to a lot more chances of getting noticed by prospective employers (or clients).
The major benefit of working in groups is that you connect with a larger audience of people with people of similar interests. This makes it quite easy to create friendships that can later result in referrals.
Setting up consulting networking calls
After connecting with a new person, you might want to set up an informational interview to discuss the workplace or career growth. An informational interview further gives you a path to building a well-defined relationship with a new connection that you mean.
Make sure you’re prepared to give back to them. Write a couple of points you’d like to share that you are certain may be of interest to them.
When done right, consulting networking can enhance your career from a very early stage. It helps you stay motivated, build friendships, and take charge of your career by making meaningful connections. Don’t delay building your network – there is nothing more important to your long-term career.