Let’s be absolutely clear: perhaps the biggest benefit of becoming an authority within your space is that your prospecting days are over.
Your ideal clients come to you—from your content shared across various platforms and/or referrals. You’re not spending time digging up people to talk to.
But no one starts out fully baked.
Which means there are a few pivot points where some prospecting—looking for and engaging potential clients and allies—is actually an excellent use of your time.
Pivot #1: You’re new to consulting and need to start building your client base. When you’re just starting to build your consulting business, your motivation to build a robust client base is high. You know securing clients is how you’ll ensure you’re not headed back to corporate or big-firm life.
And while prospecting may not be your favorite thing, you do it.
You make connections on LinkedIn with friends of friends, start actual conversations with Twitter folk, have coffee with old colleagues and hit up networking events to find your people.
Then you get busy with billable work—and you stop.
Pivot #2: You’ve firmly positioned yourself in a niche, but have a too-small audience to keep growing organically. After you’ve been in business for awhile (and stopped prospecting), the leads start drying up.
Or you might even become a victim of your own success—generating steady (if not scintillating) work that keeps you firmly on a low six-figure hamster wheel, unable to jump off.
In either case, you’ll realize it’s time to niche—to specialize your offerings in some meaningful way to build a steady stream of work or to upscale your pricing and client base.
You start generating content for that new message and audience—but your base is small and you need to build some converts.
Prospecting can be an ideal way to reach them. You’re not selling them on your services, but on your idea. To join in your crusade, to come on your email list, to read and engage with your stuff.
Yes, one-to-one contact and engagement may feel agonizingly slow (and not why you want to build authority in the first place), but it can also be the crucial step to accelerating your momentum and leading you to a tipping point.
Pivot #3: You’ve changed your message—targeting a different audience or shifting your niche. When you change up your messaging, you’ve got two audiences: those who heard the old drum beat and those who never paid attention before.
You can accelerate how quickly the new message “takes” with some one-to-ones with your key tribe members. And you can really break through by “prospecting” with the as-yet-to-be-converted.
Not to sell them on your services and products, but to discuss your big idea. To bond with them as individuals and enlist them in your mutual cause.
Sure, not every conversation will be a home run, but others will take you places you can’t even imagine yet: referrals, podcast and media interviews, high value invites, article co-authoring, book blurbs…
Of course you want to build authority with your content so that your ideal clients and buyers come to you.
But until you’ve created a fully self-sustaining eco-system, why not use prospecting to get you there faster?