The "salon" was pack full of company stands and featured a good number of conferences that were to the point and very stimulating.
The day started with a talk by Catherine Pompei on "Consulting: how to develop a successful business", based on the book she co-wrote "Consultants: how to land your first contracts". According to Catherine, there are 3 type of consulting missions:
- Those requiring a specific domain know how
- Outsourced resource, which independent consultant rarely take
I found this classification useful as it made me realise that I aspire to be an expert consultant. My expertise is in social network analysis and business analysis to help companies fully leverage the potential of the tacit knowlede they don't know they have.
The other re-inforcing thought that I got from her talk was that success lies in how a consultant nurtures their network and particularly their clients. A successful consultant gives first with no propect of immediate return. It is a great way to establish a genuine atmosphere of cooperation and trust. In fact, it is a way of life. You cannot fake it. You have to feel the imperative of acting in such a way for your own well being.
Finally, Catherine had a nice image to emphasize two essential qualities of a successful consultant: a consultant has to embrace the strategy of the elephant's toe allied with the agility of the kangooroo. The meaning of this is that it's best to establish commercial relationships with a client in measured steps, so that the commitment does not seems too important upfront that it would trigger a negative response. At the same time, flexibility and adaptability are paramount to ensure that the consultant's contribution will fullfill the client's expectations in the best way.
I bought Ms Pompei's book so I could get a deeper understanding of the steps that I need to take to land my first contract.
I attended a couple more conferences that day that I will describe later.