T&D: NSPI/ISPI Has Been Very Very Good To Me

Reflecting at the End of the Year 2018 – Part 3:

11 Of My Last 12 Projects Came From Connections Made at NSPI/ISPI

A 20 month gig in 2013-2014 and an 8 month gig in 2015 came from an attendee at my first presentation at NSPI Houston, WAY BACK on November 1, 1982.

That was also my first day as an External Consultant after leaving Motorola.

I also did T&D consulting work for that same person’s firms way back in 1983, 1985 and 1986.


Oh – that 1 of 12 that didn’t come from NSPI/ISPI came from an ASTD presentation I did at their national conference – 20 years earlier. It works like that. Your reward might come WAY LATER. WAY LATER.

As I scan the list of my projects – since 1982 I’ve done over 350 – some large (long) and some small (short) … I can immediate recall for about 90% where the lead came from.

Mostly it was NSPI/ISPI – NSPI became ISPI in the mid-1990s.

From 1982 until 1997 I was a consultant and then a partner with Ray Svenson (and a former wife) where we had a staff that ranged from a dozen to the mid-20s.

Then from 1997 until 2002 I was the founder and majority owner at another consulting firm – with a staff that also ranged from a dozen to the mid-20s.

Then in 2002 I went solo – using former employees and sub-contractors as my flexible team. It’s been that way ever since.

Those that have gone the External Consultant/Contractor route know that their number one issue is finding leads for business. And how to balance and “keep marketing” while “your nose is on the grindstone” – so to speak – for your current projects.

It’s a tough balancing act.

Many have repeat business with one or a small  number of key clients. But that’s risky as some have discovered.

The best way to find new clients is to do great work and ask for testimonials – on their letterhead, on LinkedIn, etc. Ask your clients to refer you to those in their networks, as they feel appropriate. Push – but don’t be pushy.

Another way is to market yourself with articles and presentations – for professional/affinity groups local, national and international.

But it’s not always easy to do. Easy said than done, is the phrase.

Another route is to serve as a sub-contractor to prime contractors. You’ll find them at professional/affinity groups local, national and international too. Be ready to surrender part of the rate they charge you out at for their marketing and sales efforts – and their risks. That’s the cost of business – or the Cost of Sales in financial lingo.

Back in 1986 I published about all of this in the ISPI Chicago newsletter – see that here.

Beware when someone suggests to you, “Come on in. The water’s fine!”

It is not. It is shark infested – so to speak. It is not for everyone.

Yet, that’s the way the world is going.

Keep you skills up. Keep learning. Be flexible. Make meaningful connections. Get involved with various local chapters and serve them – to get yourself known.

NSPI/ISPI has been very very good to me.

But that was then and this is now. You’re going to need a bigger boat – so to speak – a larger set of professional/affinity groups to network in – both face-to-face and virtually.

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