When it comes to IT consultant, it is a safe bet to say that most of the people working for consultant firm or even doing contract consulting work on their own are geeks. Geeks do not have a really great reputation for being social. In fact, geeks are known for being anti-social the world over. This is a major downside when it comes to the world of consulting. Why? Because to be a successful consultant, one needs to be fairly social. Being social is how you network with others, it is how you make that extra sell, and it helps make you a better communicator in general.
I have already talked about the social aspect of being a geek before in my article, Geeks: A Social Conundrum, but I figured I would kind of rehash for this new series because from a consulting perspective, being social is an absolute necessity. So, for the socially inept, how does one work at being more social? Well, there are a couple of ways. First and foremost, be a little more forward. If you are at the water cooler or coke machine, and someone you don’t know walks up to get their own beverage, introduce yourself. Something as simple as “I don’t believe we have met, I’m [State Your Name]” can go a long way in helping you being to be more social and even be noticed. Even if the person is someone of great importance in the company, introduce yourself. Those powerful types always remember the people that speak up, even if they have a “bad” idea or some other foolery. You made an effort, good or bad, you tried. That means something a lot folks.
I dropped a second little helper there, speak up in meetings. If you have something to say, even if it points out a flaw in someone else’s work, speak up. You do not have to be rude about it, but saying something about it could end up saving the company time and money. It can also give you the opportunity to learn, if you do not understand. It is okay to say that you do not understand. If something is above your head, ask for an explanation. You can even do this “offline” (out of the meeting and 1 on 1 with someone who does understand) if you do not want to do it in the meeting.
These are just two simple things that one can do to better their social skills, if only slightly. These are steps that I myself have taken over the years and even more so just recently. They work. One just has to get over that initial fear. Once you you are over that fear though, you will see that it is a lot easier then you ever thought possible.