How the Other Half Sees You

Once you become a consultant, you are immediately treated differently—both by new contacts and old friends. People immediately think you are only looking out for yourself and constantly trying to put one over on them.  Many companies view consultants not as highly qualified professionals, but as dime-a-dozen peddlers. Many people who say they have similar qualifications have rung their bells and knocked on their doors. Do not expect immediate respect. You’re going to have to earn the respect of your clients. How will you do that? Here are a few recommendations.

You are an outsider

If you miss the friendship of your corporate colleagues, get closer to your own family—or buy a dog.

Consultants and crass and showy opportunists

My recommendation is to be squeaky clean and impeccably honest in all of your dealings and to treat all client information as if it was the recipe for Coca ColaTM. Continue to promote yourself as larger than life, but when people meet you, play down your accomplishments and be humble. You will demonstrate your expertise as consultant far better by truly listening to your clients and working with them as friendly equals, than by puffing yourself up. 

At the end of the day, you are just another supplier 

I recommend that you run the other way when a client calls you a supplier. I feel that consulting is a very personal service and lowering it to the level of someone selling an “off-the-shelf” commodity demeans the profession and the talented people who make it their life’s work. 

Think about this

How did you see consultants when you worked for a corporation? Be honest. How would you like your clients to see you? What can you do to accomplish this?

Reprinted from “Consulting Mentor” April, 2010 with permission from the publisher, American Society for Training and Development