Consulting 101: Opportunities and branding
Posted November 25, 2015on:
I am continuing my short series on what I have learnt so far about being an independent consultant. The previous parts were:
Today I explore two important and related concepts: Taking and making opportunities, and building your own brand.
I build my own brand by sharing regularly and openly. The two platforms I rely on primarily are this blog and Twitter. My blog houses my reflections and resources, and Twitter amplifies them.
Sharing openly might seem counterintuitive. The obvious response is to not share that much. However, it will be obvious to others if I hold back. I am not concerned that I might be sharing so much that I am no longer needed or that I share enough so that others can replicate what I do.
I do not think in terms of the content. The content that I create or curate is unlikely to be unique. What is far more important is the connections that I can make that few others can. My ability to convince others of what I know or believe in is just as important. That is my value as a consultant. I do not merely dispense information; I seek to distill wisdom.
That value is part of my branding and it is what creates opportunities. As I put myself openly online, I am easily found there. While some of my engagements come from good, old-fashioned networking, my newer ones stem from a newer breed of workers Googling for information. I do not just take old opportunities, I make new ones with new strategies.
Not all the opportunities that come my way are good ones. I continue to learn by trial and error to say no to opportunities that I do not believe in. For example, I am sometimes asked to validate the efforts of vendors who have no pedagogical legs to stand on. They want to borrow mine, but I will not sell out. If I did this, I would lose the integrity of my brand.
My branding leads to opportunities that open up thanks to people who seek me out because of what they already believe in or wish to know more about. I keep the opportunities pure and that adds to my branding.
The question that remains is: How do I get someone to pay for my brand of work? I share some thoughts on that tomorrow.