Consulting 101: Relationships

I’m certain during Onboarding it was made clear the importance of maintaining a positive relationship with the client.  This makes sense, after all they are the ones writing the check and keeping us little fish billable.  That being said, if you’re looking for a “How-To” guide on contributing to your client’s happiness, this isn’t it.  As a matter of fact, this post will highlight internal relationships and the awesome potential they have.

To be fair, I’m kind of biased in this area.  I say this because I tend to value relationships in every aspect of my life: work, family, faith, and community involvement.  Even at the local Waffle House I frequent here in Atlanta.

IN THE OFFICE:  We all know the top priority being on any project is completing our deliverables and contributing however we can.  That’s what we’re staffed to do, so it stays at the fore front our minds.  Let’s start with the simple things, like greeting each other with a simple “hello” or “good morning, what’s on your agenda for today?”  Sometimes those early light-hearted conversations set the tone for my mornings, even if there is quite a big workload ahead.  These short interactions are a great way to understand who your co-workers are and how they operate.  People often discover they share a common interest outside of project work that allows them to connect.  The #1 opportunity to foster a connection is over (you guessed it) FOOD!  People need to eat to survive.  Now, sharing a meal doesn’t make two people “survival buddies” (starving together does).  Dining with your team members at lunch/dinner does create an atmosphere where people are likely to be personable.

OUTSIDE THE OFFICE:  Now it’s a party!.. Hopefully your idea of fun outside of work doesn’t mimic scenarios from “The Hangover” (either of the three).   If that’s the case, I’m confident there are opportunities to explore for connecting with co-workers outside business hours.  For myself, I’m more of the outdoors type, so I’d most likely lobby for hiking a trail, paintball, spear fishing (just putting it out there).  There are plenty of chill indoor activities that people enjoy as well that are little to no cost.  Again, food is a great option here.  I promise you, people can’t live without it.  Perhaps suggesting a restaurant that you know is a hidden gem, or having a small gathering and cooking/ordering out.  I’ve even known people to visit each other’s home base cities over the weekend to hang out at festivals, concerts, etc.

Not once did I mention the term “networking” in this post.  Mainly because as you build relationships with your co-workers that is essentially what you’re doing.  Sure, initially most of your relationships will be with other staff consultants.  But the more you extend yourself to people within the company thru project roles, visiting your home office, and events; you’ll begin to see the shift.  Taking a genuine interest in the people you work with can change your outlook on your daily work life and help shape your career as a staff consultant.  I’m sure you’ll meet some awesome people along the way. I know I have.

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