Consultants and clients often have a contentious relationship. Clients resent the high hourly fees the consultants charge. They view consultants as a necessary evil. Consultants tire of the constant demands the client places on them, while pressuring them to lower their fees on an almost constant basis.
Consultants don’t understand that it is up to them to provide such high quality service that the client becomes happily dependent upon them. By following these tips, the consultant can get the client to love them almost unconditionally. Continue reading 5 Ways to Get Your Client to Love You→
One of my best friends died last week. As toddlers, Robb and I played together in the nursery of our church. We were in the same kindergarten class. We were friends through high school, college and throughout our adult lives.
Over the past decade or so, even though our lives got busy with family and career, we would get together every three to four months for dinner. We would have some dinner and a few beers and share our lives with each other for just a couple of hours.
It was usually Robb who initiated those meetings. He’d send me an email or a text and suggest a time and a place. Sometimes, he would bring someone he thought I’d be interested in meeting. He introduced me to a young man that was going to the same college as me. And he once introduced me to someone that wanted to get into consulting.
The Last Dinner
The last time we met for one of those dinners, we talked about our families and careers a little, as usual. We tormented Joe, the waiter a little. We discussed some of our old friends. I talked to him about how I kept up with many of them with social media.
Robb had social media accounts, but he was almost never on them. He told me that he just didn’t get Facebook and Linked in. “What’s the point?” he asked. I tried to explain to him how much fun it was for me to learn what friends – old and new – were up to.
Then three days later, at the age of 51, he died of a heart attack in his sleep.
As I sat in the church, I listened to the minister eulogize my friend. Fortunately, he was also a close friend with Robb and he spoke of their relationship. He explained that Robb would call him every few months to meet for coffee. They would get together and just talk.
It amazed me how similar it was to my experience with Robb. Then, I heard other people speak. They too remarked how they’d meet with Robb occasionally. The minister talked about how Robb was a connector of people. And I realized that my relationship with Robb wasn’t unique at all. He did that with many other people. He regularly maintained his relationships and built new ones by connecting people in his network.
The Lesson Learned
Many of us connect with friends, coworkers and business acquaintances, thinking we’re networking. But most of us are just playing a numbers game. Few of us spend the time to get to know the people in our network. And we probably rarely connect people with others out of the blue, just because they may have something in common.
When we do make contact with those connections, it’s usually when we need something. “Hi Bill, I’m looking for a job. Do you know anyone who is hiring?” Or maybe, “I’m looking to sell to this company and was wondering if you could introduce me to this guy.” I admit that I’ve done that before.
So moving forward, I pledge to take a page out of Robb’s book. I’ll try to develop deeper relationships rather than increase the number. I will focus on quality instead of quantity.
I don’t know if I’ll ever leave a legacy as rich as the one my friend Robb left behind. But when I leave this world, if there are people who remember me as a connector of people, I know that I will honor his legacy.
That’s enough for me.
What have you done to develop your relationships this week?
As always, I welcome your comments and criticisms.
As we recover from the Great Recession of 2008-2009, unemployment continues to inch downward. Lingering effects remain, however. Many people who were unable to find jobs with traditional employers became consultants. Some were consultants in name only. They had no paying clients, but showed the title to fill the resume gap. Others were successful in finding clients. But were they successful in keeping those clients?
Consulting involves more than just offering your labor and knowledge for a fee. A consultant must focus on the client’s issues and make the client’s success a priority. You may call yourself a consultant. But it is still possible that you suck as a consultant.
Here are six ways that could mean you suck as a consultant.
I’ve worked with clients who had their own project methodologies. In most cases it was a binder or two somewhere on a bookshelf. It might have even been distributed in binders on everyone’s desk.
Unfortunately, that was often where it ended. It has been my experience that many clients don’t follow methodologies even when they have them. At least it is not followed consistently. One person may follow a few aspects of it and another person may use other features. Meanwhile, the general population of project leads all do things their own way. Their approaches are gathered from a collection of practices and habits from previous jobs. Continue reading How Herding Cats Allows Consultants To Get Things Done→
Ask any random business people what first comes to mind when they think of the word “consultant.” Some will tell you that they steal your watch to tell you the time. You might hear that they train their people on one client in order to charge higher rates at the next client. But some may utter a single word and most people will know what they are talking about: shelfware.
When I was in high school, I had a job at a restaurant. At one point, being a mature 16-year old, I wanted to quit. I didn’t just want to quit. I wanted to tell the boss off and storm out of the place.
I was talking to my dad about it. He told me that I shouldn’t be burning bridges like that.
When a consultant shows up at a new client, it’s always a good idea to have one’s guard up. It’s very possible that he or she is entering hostile territory. It’s nothing personal. Okay, maybe it’s a little personal. You did decide to become a consultant after all.
I used to wonder why clients distrusted us consultants so much. Over the years I learned that it was a combination of past experience, confusion, and a little over-generalization. One of the major causes is, like any category of people, there are always some people in a group that give everyone a bad name. Continue reading 6 Reasons Client Employees Hate Consultants→
In the book Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, the 5th book of the insanely popular series by J. K. Rowling, a new teacher is introduced. Professor Umbridge becomes a formidable antagonist in the story.
She is appointed by Minister of Magic Cornelius Fudge, initially as a teacher of Defense against the Dark Arts. She later becomes Headmaster of Hogwarts. During her tenure, she was known to hold a clipboard as she observed the students’ behavior, taking notes, but not revealing any of her thoughts. Continue reading How the Client Senses the Consultant Spy→