Consulting has always seen as a lucrative career option for development professionals. Of course this fascinating option has its ups in terms of exposure, varied expressions in assignments and most importantly out of Institutional bounds i.e. freedom of notions. Along with these ups, the profile has got its own challenges.
Therefore for the people who eyes this line as effortless and painless job; the answer is No. Does it limit your stake in project? Does it make you less responsible? The answer is No.
Seeking a difference in orientation of “being a regular employee” and in “consultative profile”, one has to earmark their differentials in service engagement, approach and conduct. The hierarchy, complex odds of authority and salutations hampers creativity and goodwill in conventional office arrangements. Mostly in course of time, employees expose themselves to institutional politics, starting their involvement and engagement. However consultant profile demands it to be driven by the project mandate and well defined Term of Reference (ToR) in its true spirit. Here the term “Boss” gets redefined in more of a matrix structure than the traditional hierarchical system.
The success of a consultant is entirely depends on the way one manage his/her profile. You are your own boss and your own employee. With it come the responsibilities which might look to small to be noticed but much more impactful. You have to keep in mind that consulting is not an employee having a per-day-fee; it is all about working within a well-structured and well-defined scope. These scopes are the very first rationale to take care of. While picking up new assignment, one should think of internal institutional dynamics, conflict of interest and legal clause in the ToR with an instant glance.
Thoughtful observance, openness to new ideas, analytical in approach is some of the key traits in consultancy. When one work in an organization as a regular employee, one can have a very strong point of view on certain thought or approach but in consulting one may have to averse his stand or moderate his/her views in certain context.
Consultants are generally paid in two modes; per day basis and fixed remuneration. However, when the assignment has got well defined scope, it is always good to go for fixed-cost assignment. It is always advisable to avoid blurred “scope of assignment” – as it is not beneficial for either of the involved party. As it is said that its always better to have things in black and white rather than shades of grey, getting clarity of assignment is prerequisite; if possible getting it documented at the early stage of the negotiation always help in long run.
In terms of payment, net income of a consultant may be more that what one have earned being a full time employee but it is also notable that it may be continuous unlike full-time employment. Unlike full-time employee, one has to vacate his/her desk more frequently exploring newer shores, new cultures and challenges.
In general consultants are expected to be an expert on specific area which makes them special. It is always advisable to move to consulting after having a good working experience in certain areas. Why not? What’s the point sticking among piles of files at your desk, writing up presentations and documents for your superiors when you can do the same for yourself with one own tag. However small these might be but some of the tips and tricks of this trade are:
In this role, you are on your own. Your brand, your marketing, your business development; all sections is to be handled by you. Presence is very important tool of business development in this profile. It is always useful to participate in seminars and conferences of own domain and interest areas. Apart from keeping things up to date, these events provide excellent avenues for networking.
Online presence is also very important for a consultant in any sector. It helps the potential party to understand your profile in details before the interaction. Social media has emerged as a new medium of communication – however being a consultant it is appropriate to have a disciplined presence on these platforms. Out of all social networking channel Linked-in seems to be the most effective online platform for a consultant.
Communications both written and verbal are the key to consulting. Say Skill, knowledge and attitude all the best of your capabilities may prove constraint if you lack quality communication skills. It needs to be refined and adapted for appropriation in different situations.
Consultancy demands organized approach. From small things like structuring files and email to big task like project deliverable. Keeping file in online drive (such as ONE DRIVE or GOOGLE DRIVE) is always useful.
Some important sources where information on consulting opportunity may be found are as follows