Imagine that you have developed a soft drink that tastes better than Coke. It has fewer calories, comes in a biodegradable can and contains nutrients that will make its users healthier. Everything about this product is better than Coke, Pepsi or any other soft drink on the market. Unfortunately, you have no marketing budget to promote it and have to rely on word of mouth. The current market seems perfectly happy with the soft drinks they’re already drinking and your new product never gets off the ground.
This fictional scenario can happen to you in a consulting environment. You may be the hardest, smartest worker in your firm. But if you don’t get your name out to the decision makers who staff projects or have influence on that staffing, you may get passed up for high-profile projects.
This is not as much of an issue at smaller firms where management already knows you. It’s more critical for larger firms and critical for 1st & 2nd tier firms like McKinsey, Deloitte and McGladrey. It’s easy to get lost in firms like that.
You may do a bang-up job on a project and impress the partner and the project manager. If their next project requires your skill set, they may lobby to get you assigned to their project. But they may move on to projects that require a completely different skill set. In larger firms, it’s very important to market yourself within. Some of the things you can do are:
- Volunteer to speak at firm meetings. – Most firms hold all-hands meetings on a quarterly or semi-annual basis to update the staff on their progress and provide an overview of a couple of their latest successful projects. If they showcase a project that you have served on, offer to give part of the presentation. It’s a great way to get your name out.
- Make an effort to meet the firm leadership – Understand the firm hierarchy and figure out who the decision makers are (Partners, VPs, Directors). Get to know their names and faces and introduce yourself in a non-intrusive way. Selling yourself like a used car will backfire like a… well, like a used car.
- Volunteer to work on sales proposals – When unassigned (on the bench), show that you are willing to do whatever it takes to make the firm successful. It exposes your skills to others and increases your chances of being assigned to the project if the proposal wins.
- First and foremost, do your regular job well – You won’t get assigned to any high-profile projects or proposals if you haven’t already developed a reputation for doing quality work.
About the author: Lew Sauder is the author of Consulting 101: 101 Tips For Success in Consulting (www.Consulting101Book.com) He has been a consultant with top-tier and boutique consulting firms for seventeen years.