In a training for a county women group, I invited three other trainers with various skills besides financial management and investment to educate the ladies on how to improve their lives. They needed skills on etiquette and leadership as some of them were aspiring for political positions in coming elections.
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I had an informal meeting with the trainers and one of them kept talking about herself and the achievements she has made in her career.
“When I was in Addis Ababa presenting a paper to the African Union on reproductive health...there is this time I went to New York to talk about...” She ‘threw’ in nearly all world cities and how she had been in conferences with the big boys and girls running the economic global stage.
The others felt so inadequate before her that they kept quiet and listened to her big stories. At first you impulsively feel like shutting up such a person. But wisdom took centre stage and I decided to entertain these self-proclamations.
I concluded that the lady has perfected the skill of outdoing others to stand out and hence get the next job. She knew the people at any meeting could be serious decision-makers at whatever organization they came from. Although her approach is not necessary the best, she teaches a few skills on how to get the best out of any situation.
Unless you talk about your capabilities, people have no magic powers to know what you do. In fact, companies call you for an interview to assess if you are the right candidate they are looking for.
So if you keep repeating what you have already put down in your CV, they might not call you after the interview. You are expected to talk about your skills and what you can do, with examples of what you have done.
See beyond the money:
The lady talked of these jigs she had pulled at international forums and yet she was here at a not-so-lucrative local assignment. She was not looking at the amount of money paid but at the opening to network and as a result get another consultancy.
When you get out there, you just never know who you will meet and the window of opportunities chance meetings can open for you.
Give it your best:
Your outlook, hard work and commitment may hand you the next job. The sweet-talking woman said she often left a conference or workshop with a job that ensures she is busy for weeks. People attending these conferences usually approach her with, “Can you train my staff on this or that.”
Make it solid:
Before you embark on any job, sign a contract and agree on down-payment. Taking up a job in good faith while trusting that the person will pay is a big mistake. Even multi-million organizations sometimes fail to pay for work done.
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Be careful when doing some work for friends. These are the worst people when it comes to honoring payments. In most cases, friends exploit your skills and brutally go ahead to get their other friends to also get your service cheaply.
In such cases, the best option is to tell them you are busy and recommend a professional colleague to offer them the same service. Always mark boundaries when it comes to friendship.
If you are fully in consultancy, you cannot afford to be extravagant with any payment you get for a service however huge. Some clients pay even one year after a job is done.
Therefore you have to plan and budget for this money to stretch you for many months before another good contract comes along. When the payment finally comes, it will enable you invest in a major project you have been thinking about.
Use these tools:
Financial discipline and good rapport are the best tools for any consultant. Networking is as good as handing you the next job.