Tag Archives: Personal Branding

Consulting: Stepping Stone or Career

Consulting-stepping stone
Consulting may be just a stepping stone

In days gone by, the terms job and career were synonymous.  Whether you were fresh out of high school, college or the military, you got a job and worked there until you retired. It was rare to have two or more jobs in one’s career

Today’s world is different.  Companies have massive layoffs. It moves people to new employers every few years or so.  Additionally, companies began dropping pensions and individuals started saving for their own 401(k) savings programs. The work force became much more portable. Employees were no longer beholden to stay at one company until retirement.  Finally, the pace of technological change has also caused great employment change.  Organizational needs change more frequently causing additional churn in their employment ranks.
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What Does a Consultant on the Bench Do?

Consultant on the Bench
What Does a Consultant on the Bench Do?

Like many industries, the consulting industry can be feast or famine.  There can be more work than you have time to complete it.  In those cases you have to decide which work to decline.  It’s not easy to walk away from billable work.

At other times, you can’t find enough work to do to stay busy.  (Hint: this is the famine part). The common term for this situation is that you are ‘on the bench’.  Like a utility player on a sports team, you are sitting in reserve waiting until your skills are needed for another project.

A bored consultant on the bench

For me, this is the consulting version of Siberia; lost in a hopeless no-man’s land. You have very little to do and what you are assigned is often either busy-work or unfulfilling at best.
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Make Yourself Indispensable

Make Yourself Indispensable
Make Yourself Indispensable

Unless you’re an undertaker, repeat business should always be your goal.  Whether you are an independent consultant or serving on a large project from a large firm, your main goal is to get billable and remain that way.

Developing a relationship

Consulting traditionally has a long sales cycle.  A major factor in selling services is the relationship you build with the prospective client.  That takes time to develop.  The larger the project, the longer it takes an organization to narrow down the choices, get the appropriate decision makers involved and acquire financial sign-off.

So once you develop the relationship, convince the key people that you are the right person (or firm) for the job, and get their decision in writing, your challenge has just begun.
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Consulting Fail: Burning Bridges

Burning Bridges
Burning Bridges

At one point in my career, I worked for a top tier consulting firm that was acquired by another firm.  As happens in just about any merger or acquisition, management announced how great this would be for the future of the firm and that no layoffs were planned as a result of the acquisition.

Seven weeks later, to what should have been no one’s surprise, the acquiring firm saw that we had too many people on the bench and laid off anyone that was not assigned to a billable project.  Because I was between projects, I found myself in a partner’s office with an HR representative hearing of their regret that my employment had been terminated.
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Networking and Collecting Names

Networking
Networking and Collecting Names

I recently connected on Facebook with a childhood friend I haven’t seen or heard from since 5th grade.  We were both amazed by the fact that we remembered so much about each other after all of these years.

It got me to thinking that for our next generation.  When friends move away, social media tools allow them to stay in touch forever.  Certainly Facebook and all of the other social media tools will evolve in the future.  Ten years from now, who knows what tools will exist or how they will work. What we do know is that staying connected is here to stay.
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4 Ways to Market Yourself within the Consulting Firm

market yourself
How to Market Yourself within the Consulting Firm

Imagine that you have developed a soft drink that tastes better than Coke.  It has fewer calories, comes in a biodegradable can and contains nutrients that will make its users healthier.  Everything about this product is better than Coke, Pepsi or any other soft drink on the market.  Unfortunately, you have no marketing budget to promote it and have to rely on word of mouth.  The current market seems perfectly happy with the soft drinks they’re already drinking and your new product never gets off the ground.
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