Several months ago I “thought” I had completed the series on Launching a Consulting Business, with the post which provided an index to the 25 + articles written on the subject.
I just realized, I wasn’t done 🙂
Before going into this latest topic…
A current “rock start” management consultant is Alan Weiss. Prior to launching my own consulting business I read his books and attended events where he spoke. Bottom-line: He shares a wealth of knowledge on the topic of being a successful management consultant!
As such, if you are considering this path, or would like to take your consulting business to the next level, then the following book by Mr. Weiss is highly recommended. Simply click on the image and you’ll be transported to Amazon.com to get your copy!
Now, let’s cover the latest topic…The Image.
As Mr. Weiss points out, clients (prospective and existing) want to associate with success. Any consultant that a client may engage, therefore, must have an image of success or they will NOT be as attractive a candidate to bring in to their company, under their good name.
This image includes our:
- Dress code
- Emotions and Mannerisms
Reality is, people DO judge a book by it’s cover…
Let’s now cover each of our “covers.”
I recall, when I still worked in Corporate America many years ago, as VP of Customer Care, one of the Sales guys called me and said: “Craig, we need you to dress-up again like James Bond, for an upcoming meeting.”
Wow, I thought…I’ve never been compared to James Bond, but I can live with it 🙂
What he meant was, get on your best suit because we’re going to meet a customer.
The guiding principle here is, at least for the first impression, to dress at a level above how we expect our client to be dressed. For me, this means putting on my best suit, crispy white shirt, tie and polished shoes. It may turn out that this “is” the dress code for some companies. Thankfully, the dress code for many of my clients is business casual, which is the attire I’ll then don after the initial “meet and greets” have taken place.
I happen to top my suit off with a gold Cross pen in my shirt pocket. I recall one of my sons commenting: “Dad, you hammer on being frugal. Why the heck would you spend $50 on a pen? And, why do you need a pen anyway, if you are pushing for a paperless world?”
Out of the mouthes of babes…Very good questions…
My response – The high-end pen is part of the image. And, while I might want to push for paperless, some clients still ask that I execute contracts with ink. I ALWAYS want to be prepared for that.
So there 🙂
While we covered tools in the post Be Equipped I thought it important to reinforce and expand on this here.
First, not only do you want a laptop that has significant horsepower, it must “look good.” This includes making sure it is clean and not all banged-up. And, in keeping with our dress attire, it ought to be as good as (or better) than what the prospective client has. Why? Because YOU are supposed to demonstrate that you are leading edge.
You’ll also want to have the common tools of collaboration. For example, Webex…I cannot tell you how many client meetings I’ve been invited to and, upon attending, observe that one or more invitees could not attend in person – they needed to dial-in. The meeting organizer hadn’t considered this very real and highly typical possibility (REPEATEDLY).
What emerges is a very simple example of how and where the “power consultant” can shine by jumping in and offering to IMMEDIATELY launch a Webex session to enable remote attendees to participate. This, while the facilitator proceeds with his/her meeting.
While this may be a little thing, the simple gesture demonstrates that you are “always ready” to remove obstacles and ensure things move forward smoothly.
Again, instead of going into the topic of tools for the power consulting, in more detail, feel free to read the previous post on this topic (Be Equipped).
Our transportation says a lot about us. This does NOT mean we should drive a BMW or Mercedes. What it does mean is that our vehicle must be:
- In good working order (not constantly breaking down, causing late arrivals, missed meetings or deadlines)
- Reasonably new (no rust, dings or dents)
- Clean, especially inside, for that occasion when we take a client out to lunch
Emotions and Mannerisms
Back to James Bond.
Have you ever seen him truly stressed out? I can’t say that I have. He always keeps his cool; never blows his top. Calm, cool and collected. That is the image of a power consultant.
Another analogy…We must be like a duck gracefully crossing the lake. Rain (or anything else that hits us) simply rolls off our back (at least this is what people see on the surface). But, underneath the surface we are paddling (thinking, planning, strategizing) like crazy.
Bottom-line: We cannot let things ruffle us. Our clients look at us as problem solvers. They do NOT expect us to commiserate (wallow around in the mud) with them.
In closing, all of the above may seem superficial to some. Perhaps they aren’t living in the real world 🙂
Those who want to be considered (and paid as) a power consultant should NOT take these things lightly. Trust me and just do it…
All the best!