Picture this: It’s wintery outside – dripping rain and blustering wind. You have a snuffly nose, a sore throat and feel slightly ‘floaty’ with the cold. Then, your drink bottle explodes in your bag complete with laptop, iPad and mobile phone – in the middle of a meeting.
In the world of being a consultant, this is not a disaster, these are distractions that you are trained to ignore and deal with later when you are not on your client’s time – delivering.
So why am I having a very public whinge about this? I have two main reasons:
- I’m looking for sympathy
- I think there is a great lesson in thinking about yourself as a consultant, and not as an employee.
As yesterday’s events unfolded, I couldn’t help but feel a little sorry for myself. All my instincts were saying pack up, go home and just put the day down as a ‘dead’. However, as I was being paid to be with my client and to deliver something of value, I kept trucking. I continued on to get my client what they expected for the day.
Now, I am not advocating turning up to work sick, but I am advocating that as an employee it is sometimes beneficial to push yourself out of your comfort zone, ignore the distractions and think about your work like your livelihood depends on it, which as a consultant, it does.
So what does it actually mean to be a consultant?
- Focus first on relationships in the business: To meet needs, you need to know what the problems are. Developing relationships with decision makers gives you first-hand access to real problems you can solve and the opportunity to be asked back.
- Serve up a finished product: At work, you are judged on what you deliver, so make sure what you deliver looks good. Typos and poor presentation can distract from content and from the value of your work.
- Under promise, over-deliver: Key to showing value is meeting or exceeding expectations. Set expectations realistically and early so you can have the opportunity to beat what you’ve said you will do and really impress people.
- Treat work as an opportunity to sell yourself: Consultants use examples of delivered work, relationships to build their own reputation and build repeat business which can equally be applied to building your own career.
- Develop a brand: This doesn’t mean creating a logo of your initials, it means knowing what you stand for and standing by it so people know what they’re getting. The more trust and confidence you can build with your peers and managers, the more opportunities you will get.
Businesses pay consultants to add value to their business. As an employee you want to be valuable to your business. Therefore, if you think and work like a consultant every day, you will be adding value to your business and your own career
Consultants aren’t robots automatically programmed to deliver, we’ve programmed ourselves because our livelihood depends on it, and you (a real person) can do that too.