Consultant (noun): a professional who provides expert advice.
Or, as I often think of it: a helper.
As an external resource, consultants are often called it to supplement existing efforts within a company; to help an internal team with strategy, encourage new connections, or sometimes just provide a set of extra hands.
Many times we build programs and projects that are meant to live long after we leave a gig –it’s the nature of the the work, and something that I think that’s the most enjoyable part. Ask any consultant and they’ll likely say besides autonomy from an office schedule, they usually enjoy the flexibility of moving between many projects of interest.
It’s no secret why – there is an exchange of helping (and gratitude) occurring. Consultants bring their best ideas and fresh perspective to the drawing room, injecting new life into deliverables that must be met. We are excited for the work, and when a client thanks us for a job well done, it is gratifying.
Honestly, the “thank you” is missing in much of the workplace today. The workweek has become so long and arduous that workers are exhausted. Thanking a co-worker doesn’t feel as necessary, because its part of their job. Perhaps, we consider coworkers more like family (who would do anything for the team because they have to), and treat consultants more like friends (grateful for their time and insights).
Here’s another secret – this helping relationship extends beyond the client, and into the field. Today, consultants are helping each other, and growing their businesses at the same time.
You’ll find many consultants, especially solopreneurs, meeting regularly in-person at coffees or lunches; speaking online in Twitter chats or sharing a colleague’s blog post; and, in the community, volunteering for causes that they believe in. I wrote recently about how solopreneurs can find a community, even when their days are usually spent alone.
During a slower season, giving of your time (especially when there’s no direct benefit for you) is a good way to meet new people, and expand your community. Who knows what doors could open up.
One of the chief concerns I hear, and first believed myself, before deciding to dive into consulting is “I don’t want to have to market myself.” By devoting yourself to a “helping” mantra, you may never have to.