Yes it is very possible.
And, I am just a small fry. Total, poorly marketed small potatoes I am with an online presence that needs serious attention.
I have done a lot of higher level consulting over the years, and it is possible to get to numbers at that level.
Although not exclusively, I have done a lot of consulting work with large government contractors, governments, finance, biotechnology and directly with VC firms.
All referral based. I have never approached any of these firms.
I simply have a network and people in that network who think of me in a certain way.
I intentionally love and go after - expensive big problems.
As I mentioned elsewhere here, you have to filter your craft/ offering, ex., through the filter of business strategy, and tie that to business defensibility and results.
So, while I come in to a business in the capacity of a “designer” - what they really are after is - how I dig into their business, the thinking around that and the strategy of how I shape the offering.
Thus, it comes down to one thing - positioning.
That’s how I position myself.
They can work with a big, expensive dying agency and their B and C players who don’t get it (or care as much) or they can get a specialist.
I come in as the specialist.
When a prospect approaches me, I have a process from start to finish - so they know exactly what they are getting, how we work together and the value of it.
In terms of how to get those connections and build that network, I wish I had a more non-evasive answer.
I honestly don’t have a great answer to that question.
It just happens for me.
But, if I had to boil it down it comes down to one thing:
I make relationships fast.
I don’t give a shit about social conventions.
I approach every single person around me with the same level of respect.
From the person sweeping the street to the suits in the ivory towers.
Acknowledgement of their presence.
And, on the flip side with those in power.
There is a tendency towards pedestal thinking - putting powerful, important people on a pedestal above you.
I don’t give a flying fuck about that shit either. lol
Just be real, be direct and do not compromise your position.
Approach powerful people with respect and assume you are on the same level.
Don’t be a kiss ass. Don’t be a worshiper.
And be willing to walk away.
So with that - - - - you wanna know how I cracked the code to business in Vietnam?
I told a guy in a stairwell he had nice shoes one day.
I notice people around me.
I acknowledge them and I assign ZERO intentionality to the outcome of acknowledgment.
When I first arrived in Vietnam 3 years ago, I noticed a guy in my apartment building I would always pass who was well dressed, I liked his fashion sense and just got a good vibe from him.
So, one day I said to him “I’m not gay, but you are one handsomely dressed guy. Love your shoes. Seems like we should know each other. What’s your story”.
And with that, the guy became a loose acquaintance of mine.
Turns out he is a successful, well-connected entrepreneur in Vietnam.
He is always in situations where he has met business owners, decision makers in companies who need design services.
Guess who he recommends.
To this day, he has referred me 100s of thousands in business.
I never ever even asked for referrals. I never do.
I have hounded him to try and pay some kind of referral fee for the gesture and he flat out refuses. Guy barely will let me buy him a drink for the gesture.
I’ve done his referrals right and that has snowballed into more referrals and relationships with those whom he has referred, which go off onto other vectors.
So, if there is one lesson, I’d say - it is to plant yourself always in the action, in some way. Don’t be out in the sticks. Always be in the center of whatever city you are in. Set yourself up for serendipity. Engineer that serendipity by getting out of the house.
You have to be present and be open to fearlessly opening conversations with those around you.
WATCH where you plant yourself as well.
If you plant yourself around a bunch of backpackers drinking dollar beers, it’s likely that will be the depth of your network.
Backpackers sipping on dollar beers.
Oscillate in and out of many scenes. Not just one.
And don’t be a weirdo just opening conversations to get something. Never have an agenda other than curiosity about the other person.
Let it happen naturally.
You can never have too many friends.
I’m out of time now, but reply to this and remind me - and I’ll tell you how I raised venture capital and became buddies with a mayor all by giving away 1000’s of dollars of free tacos and beer to strangers.
There are many unconventional ways to put yourself out there, and more importantly help others connect.
Cheers, hope that helps.