Tips For New Consultants

As many of my fellow consulting colleagues are aware, I have been hosting an Institute of Management Consultants (IMC) monthly breakfast meeting for LA-based management consultants for going on 6 years now. One of the benefits of hosting this LAX-area breakfast is that I have many occasions to meet prospective consultants as they enter the management consulting field. They find us through many inventive ways.

Oftentimes, these prospective consultants are leaving their corporate jobs (much like the situation I was in 7 years ago) and are trying to get a read of the landscape, how to navigate these unchartered waters, or (another cliché) is getting a lay of the land. Similarly, I recall stepping into this new “zone”, and the feeling can be somewhat disconcerting. After all, most of our cushiony corporate jobs have hardly prepared us for life as an entrepreneur!

Although most members of SoCal IMC (www.imcsocal.org) are small, independent firms, I have found very few colleagues who would not lend a helping hand to a potentially new colleague. We’ve all been there at one time or another.

A few words of advice I like to offer to these newbies at the onset are:

  1. Please don’t give up after attending one meeting; stick to regularly attending meetings for 4-6 months to get to meet a variety of different practitioners;
  2. When I, or others, reach out to offer our help, don’t hesitate and withdraw! Take advantage of a fellow colleague’s advice who may have gone through the same form of transition as you are right now;
  3. A few – not many, but a few – prospective consultants have joined our monthly gatherings for the first time and asked for referrals. Four words (includes one contraction): It’s All About Relationships. Let us get to know you before we hand over our client list to you, along with our first-born child!
  4. Please don’t tell us that you’re thinking about getting into consulting until you find your next job. Our time is precious, and you may not find many of us willing to help someone who is merely fishing. Try Craigslist.org instead.
  5. Remember Rule Number 6. (If you’ve never read this book, grab a copy: The Art of Possibility, by Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander (2000) — this is one of my all-time favorite books.) Sorry! You’ll have to read the book to learn about Rule Number 6.

JK (IM – instant message-speak -  for ‘just kidding’.) !! I’ll tell you next time….

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