by Cheryl Wilson
Packing a 28-year career into a few banker boxes – knowing I would not be employed the following Monday – was more than I was emotionally prepared to handle. Lost and vulnerable were foreign feelings that forced me to acknowledge how much of my personal identity I had tied to my career. Coaching and a sincere desire to learn and quickly adapt led to a solid foundation and propelled me into a rewarding experience.
Interacting with various consultants during my career always peaked my interest. I often wondered how their careers began and found them to possess great knowledge, drive, passion, and energy. New clients, new projects, setting goals, and working as a team towards a shared vision was something I always enjoyed. Finding a company that shared my values was imperative. When I began discussions with J&M about consulting, I felt confident this was a place I could succeed and grow.
It didn’t take long to realize the transition into consulting required a different mindset than the corporate world. Through trial and error and networking with my peers, I found a few fundamentals to be successful:
- Perception is everything – Clients will quickly form an opinion about you and your ability to successfully manage their projects. Be mindful of this short window of opportunity to make a positive and lasting impression; deliver quality results quickly. Make sure the way you present yourself conveys the right message.
- Build trust quickly – Your resume and interview may have opened the door, however, you will not have years of shared experiences to lean on. You are at ground zero with every new client; establish positive relationships right away.
- Exceed client expectations – anticipate needs and take the pressure off of your client. Let them know “you’ve got this” and deliver on time. Overcommunicate your project status and volunteer to take on those additional tasks to keep the project on track. Address all risks swiftly.
- Be transparent in all areas – be sensitive to client culture, but transparent in all activities and perceived roadblocks. Be candid and solution oriented.
While my journey into consulting is still very new, I have learned these simple, but not always easy, concepts to be successful. They lead to valuable client relationships and often times, extended contract engagements. Building trust and delivering superior results for each and every engagement will help drive your success in consulting.