- Go beyond the project
Research about your immediate project but don’t stop there.
Understand your client’s overall business, their finances, their top services/products, and their top competitors.
If your consulting firm has worked with them earlier, read up on previous engagements and reach out to those team members – that’s a gold mine of pro-tips tailored to your client.
- Be Google-able
Not everyone at the client will have access to your resume or know exactly what qualifies you as the “expert” in the room.
Having an online presence, such as on LinkedIn or a professional blog, that propagates your experiences and credentials will establish your credibility.
- Know the Who’s Who
Get acquainted with your client’s organizational structure, names, and faces. Walk the halls. Most companies have their top management listed on their websites.
This squad calls the shots and you want to know who they are. It will help manage client relationships later on.
- Have an Elevator Pitch
You’ll bump into two kinds of people in a client elevator.
The ones who know you and wonder, “So what are you working on today? ” and the ones who don’t know you and wonder, “So what do you do here? ” Have a 30 second pitch that warrants your presence with the value that your work is adding to their business.
- Holster Business Cards
Despite all the LinkedIns and contact sharing bump apps out there, nothing beats the tangibility and effortlessness of a business card.
Don’t be the “lemme take my phone out and give you a missed call ” consultant, especially if you are in a group setting.
- Dress the part
Consultants are an expensive investment by the client, so look worthy of that hourly rate. Dressing well is the most noticeable thing about you. Dress at or above client’s dress-code. But don’t overkill it.
- Blend in but don’t make yourself at home
You are a consultant, not an employee. You will be held to a higher standard. Keep your desk clean and don’t use client’s time and resource for personal activities.
- Be ridiculously easy to find.
Reply to your emails and phone-calls within 1 business day. Get your presence noticed and be in attendance when expected (e.g during core business hours.) Keep your individual/team calender application updated. Do use the “Out-of-Office” auto-reply feature.
- Keep it lean
Only invite people to meetings or email threads who are absolutely necessary. Keep it concise. Ideal meeting length is <= 45-minutes.
- Never go to a meeting empty-handed.
At a minimum, bring a pen and paper
- Learn to summarize
Every conversation, meeting, and email chain HAS to be “closed” with a summary. Save the unnecessary re-loops.
- Lose the battle, win the war
You are not here to win trivial arguments or fortify your ego. You’re here to conclude the project successfully. With this objectivity, recognize when to stand-your-ground and when to retreat.
- It’s not “I don’t know,” it’s “I’ll find out”
- Under promise and over deliver. Always.
- Get it written
Any piece of information that has the slightest potential of being referenced at some point in future needs to be documented TODAY. If it’s not written, it never happened.
- 1 Meeting in person > 10 Phone calls > 100 Emails
Especially during conflict resolution.
- Defer Sent Messages
If you’re on MS Outlook, make use of the delay delivery feature. It can hold your sent emails up to 2 minutes before delivering them. In case you discovered something, you would be able to retract in time.
- Don’t add the recipients of your email before you have typed it all up and proofread.
Use Spelling and Grammar Check. Never misspell names. Never mix type faces or point sizes.
- Compose your emails assuming they get forwarded to the CEO
- Use the “Reply All” and “Forward” button sparingly and carefully. See #9
- Stay neutral when it comes to discussing Politics and Religion
- Know a few good happy-hour spots in the area
Socialization is a vital investment. Pick up the tab sometimes. A drink or two is enough. Don’t buy shots.
The odds of you and your team bonding over such affairs are not worth risking the engagement.
- Thank You notes
Send out thank-you notes/farewell messages to everyone you have worked with on the project. Make peace with the ones you didn’t get along with, in person.
- Positive Feedback
For every deserving member, pass on a positive feedback to their managers, in writing. #Karma
- Keep in touch
Leave your contact information and keep in touch with your team. For e.g via LinkedIn. It pays dividends.