Giles O’Halloran introduces a career option that involves working for one or more clients that can utilise your specialist skills, knowledge, or experience…
Many people move on into the consulting space as the next career step. They often go and work for a consultancy or set up their own operation. As with all choices in life, both have their advantages and disadvantages.
However, setting up on your own in consulting is all about being able to win the business, build your client base, as well as scope, write and deliver the projects your clients need. In fact, a great deal of time is often invested in proposals, projects or client meetings that don’t yield desired results or revenue. This is something to consider and if you want to work independently, there is another option.
Have you ever considered becoming an Associate? This is still very much about being a consultant, but being freelance and working for one or more consulting practices or clients that can utilise your specialist skills, knowledge, or experience.
The nature of work is changing and will continue to do so, but at a much faster rate. This means that organisations need to be more agile to the needs of their business. As a result, they need workforces to be more flexible, and this is achieved through engaging and managing flexible groups of workers to get the work done.
Whether they use contractors, interim professionals or temps – the fact remains that there is a growing need for more flexible human resources in business.
Consultancies also need to reflect the organisations they work with and it therefore makes sense for them to also flex their resource model. They do this through developing associate programmes, deploying specialist resource on projects when and if required. It simply makes more economic sense to organisations in today’s changing world.
The Top Tips
Work with a few select consultancies
You will be tempted to sign up with as many consultancies as possible but it is worth assessing and evaluating each consultancy you work with to determine whether they are providing the work you need and which interests you.
Do your homework
You need to research the consultancy you hope to work with as an associate. Speak to those that might have worked previously for them, check whether work is forthcoming, and that they pay invoices on time and in full.
Negotiate the right rates
Your time as at a premium and the same goes for your skills, knowledge, and experience in the consulting world. You need to therefore charge the right, competitive rate to your clients that is appropriate.
Make sure you agree charges and get a written agreement
It is worthwhile confirming and agreeing rates, expenses, and any working terms of reference prior to starting work. This ensures that there are no issues later when work is completed and clients need to be billed.
Network with other associates
Once you are part of the practice as an associate, make sure you are visible within the networks. The more visible you are, the more likely you are to be included or referred to for work.
Build a strong client connection
It is understood that you need to build a strong relationship with the consulting practice you work with, but always remember to do the same if possible with the end client. Whatever happens between the consultancy and the end client, you can always maintain that connection.
About The Author
Giles O'Halloran is an experienced HR and Recruitment professional who works as a freelance consultant, strategist, writer and coach. He also spent 12 years as a reservist with the UK's Reserve Forces, serving first with the TA and later with the RAuxAF. Giles is passionate about technology, the value of networks and the future of work.