Where do you find your next consultancy contract? Networking is fine and you can always use direct mail and cold calling, however it is far easier to respond to a request than try to initiate interest in your services. I have signed up to three sources.
1. Top Consultant. http://www.top.consultant.com. Regular listings for both contract and full-time consultancy positions. Many larger consultancies also post here looking for independent contractors to work as associates. They claim to be the largest global consultancy recruitment website. Membership is £30 plus VAT.
2. Skillfair. http://www.skillfair.org.uk. This website posts projects. Many of them are requests for tender and I have found that you need to be prepared to travel if you wish to respond. However, the site works by matching up your areas of interest to posted projects and the website sends both daily and weekly emails summarising what is available. Cost is £144 plus VAT.
3. Synogis. www.synogis.com. This s a consultancy network, so rather than posting positions, they offer a collaboration opportunity for smaller independent consultants to work together to bid for larger projects that are usually served by the big four. £25 a month with many additional features.
This Week. I have signed up to being a Business Champion for LinkEd which pairs local business people with schools. A group of us will visit 14-19 yr olds in school to discuss what employers require and take them through a 3-visit structured process. Each of the champions had to give a 10 minute introduction and we have all received homework on the basis that we need to experience the same process as the students. The request was facilitated through the Institute of Directors. www.link-ed.org. The remainder of this week has been focusing on my marketing strategy and preparing for the Highflyingdivas Forum on the 27th September. How many avenues/services constitute a focused approach? One, two or less than five. I have narrowed down to three services, leadership coaching for professional women (how to survive and succeed in the political corporate world),, change management consulting (how to keep your good employees and maintain productivity during change – additional skills not needed in everyday business) and competitive strategy (how to compete, increase sales and profit). Now, this does not mean that I will not coach teams or men, that I will not develop stakeholder management and engagement plans, or that I will not train, present, write or facilitate. It does mean that I will “focus” my marketing on three “how to” areas.
We now have 15 high-achieving professional women coming to the Launch. There are 3 spaces left for anyone still considering. http://hfd.eventbrite.com. I am very excited about the event which will be both serious and useful. I have had some challenge about why just women. This is not because I am a feminist but simply because I believe that co-mentoring appeals more to women than men. So, men out there, if you would like a similar Forum – let me know!
Recommended Reading. The Feeling Good Handbook by David D Burns. M.D. is not just for people who are depressed, feel anxious or have communication problems, it helps everyone with their daily range of challenges. Understand attitudes, perceptions, behaviour, how they affect you and what your options are. Everything from beating procrastination to how to come out of a bad mood, this is a book that you will want to revisit.
I pondered about whether I wanted to write about this experience in a section called “lighter” reflections. In the event my friend and I had so much disbelief and subsequent fun, that I decided to share. My home broadband contract has ended and I wish to change provider. So, armed with my customer number, I searched the website for the providers’ customer service number. I looked under home broadband, wrote the number down, dialled it to hear “the number you require is 0870..8…..” Why not just feature this number? Too simple? So I dial “0870 to be told that if I want a free call, I should dial 0870 600….”. “Huh?” So I dial 0870 60 to be greeted with, yes you’ve guessed it – “we are dealing with other customers etc etc”. After a couple of minutes I hear a bright chirpy voice say “Sales, what is your mobile number?”. I point out that I want Home Broadband customer service as per the search I had made on the web-site. Reply comes back “sorry, just transferring you”. To a dead line. I try again and keep my exasperation to a minimum but am unable to stop my eyebrows rapidly shooting up and down as the only source of tension-release. I finally get through and am asked “What is your home number as someone will call you back immediately?”. OK, I think. Perhaps this is customer service at a premium as they do not want me to waste my time hanging on the phone (albeit that the call is now free). Or is it because Joe is the only one who deals with customer service home broadband and he is on a tea-break right now? Anyway, 5 minutes later my phone rings. I answer it to hear “Mobile sales, we are responding to your call request”. I snort, splutter and then whilst the caller is asking me if I am alright, respond with a true Victor Meldrew “I don’t believe it!” in a pitch that only a woman can reach. I “share” my experience with the caller whilst watching my colleague rolling about on my sofa in hysterics. I am given another number. By the time I speak to someone who asks me if there is anything they can do to stop me leaving them- there well and truly isn’t. If there had been any smidgen of doubt, it has gone. 30 minutes and now I still have to wait for an email and a jiffy bag (to return their router). Heavens above. Actually, was this all their strategy to ensure people do not leave them? If it is so difficult to reach them that the average person gives up and goes to wash the car, clean the bathroom, cut the grass or do anything that is mildly more entertaining than trying to get through to customer service, then perhaps they have achieved their goal!