Step 3: Activate Your Network
You can never understate the importance of a great network. And no matter your background or your field, you’d be surprised with how far your base network will get you.
Reach out with personalized messages to everyone you know and close with a specific “ask.” To whom can your connection introduce you? Can you meet for a 10-minute chat or coffee to discuss the next steps you’re making in your career? If you don’t ask, you’ll never receive. You’ll never fail to be surprised at the generosity people show with their time if you show interest and gratitude.
But don’t sell yourself short — networks can be built and buttressed every day. Start small, be consistent with your outreach, and good things will follow.
Step 4: Price to Move
Consulting is a tricky business — especially in the startup world. While ad agencies where I worked in the mid 2000s charged clients $150 an hour for my time, at cost-conscious startups it’s more realistic to make around half of that.
Start low, offer discounts and work in cash-stock ratioed plans to send the message that you have some skin in the game. Also, keep in mind that an important but low paying role at a small startup could lead to a more enriching long-term relationship if your efforts open doors and on-board customers for your client.
Step 5: Execute on the Work
An early mentor once told me, “Create reasonable expectations for every client and then vastly exceed them.” This has served as a mantra for me throughout my professional career.
Value is the name of the game for any owner. If your value shines through, your own successes will follow. In my case, it lead to an early referral that was a major boost to my practice. While two of my first clients came as referrals through my network, the third was passed on at the suggestion of a client I had worked with for just two weeks.
If you do great work, the results will speak for themselves.
Brendan Mangus is Principal Consultant at Colorwheel Media Consulting, a new breed of tech consultants specializing in helping early and mid-stage startups refine their product, define and grow their market and community and execute their outreach and go-to-market strategy. Prior to starting his consulting practice, he spent more than a decade providing marketing, branding and public relations advice.
The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.