Jan 19, 2007

Downsides of being independent

Yesterday was a rotten day.

I had to postpone and then ultimately cancel a meeting with a potential client because of personal issues.

Then it struck me that once you are independent and have no bosses or subordinates, you can't really send someone else in your place.

I'm feeling pretty down because of not being able to meet my commitment. The person was visiting Hyderabad for a couple of days and therefore it's not like we can meet immediately now.

That's one of the reasons, I bet, why independents and microfirm consultants are slowly forming relationships with other consultants. Consultants News reports:

It has begun to dawn on consultants that the way to build trusted relationships with other consultants is the same way they’ve been building successful relationship with clients. That is, first realizing that it takes time to find out if the relationship will work.

For independent consultants and microfirms, every one of these trusted relationships goes through a series of stages each of which must be completed to move onto the next stage. During each stage, participants learn more about the business philosophies of potential partners and how realistic and flexible the potential partner is. The progress through the stages is how basic business acquaintances turn into trusted partners.

Typically, the smaller the organization, the greater the scrutiny by potential partners. Before attempting to start a partnership, experienced indepen-dent consultants take the time to become very clear about how they do business, what they hope to achieve from the partnership, and how best to articulate that information to potential partners.

Another trend by independent consultants is to slow down and pay more attention to personal needs on a daily basis, as opposed to ‘when I get a chance.’

“If you think that you can only make a first impression once, think harder because chances are you’ve already made that first impression,” said one consultant. Experienced consultants know that you’re not only always on stage; even more important is that your reputation precedes you.

In my own case I have started conversations with independent and small consulting firms in Delhi and Bangalore to refer clients to each other if they can't afford consultants from other cities. Even a larger consulting firm which has no presence in Hyderabad is open to having affiliates like me in cities so that if I do get leads of large engagements that I may not be able to deliver I can call them. They get the ability to build business which would not have been possible and I get to work on a client engagement which I might not have got.

Oh well, tomorrow is a new day.