Some consultants (like me for example) work in a consulting firm. This means that we’re not merrily contractors that have to in essence pimp ourselves but we work for a company that does that for us and sends us to clients as contracts are signed. Working for a consulting firm means that a part of the battle is not fought by you but rather by sales people and the company’s (firm’s) established brand. People generally know about your firm because the firm has either done business with them before, or they recognize it in some other way.
So, as a consultant who works for a consulting firm, you might think that the idea of personal branding is done away with in favor of company branding. You couldn’t be more wrong. In fact, personal branding is just as (if not more) important inside a consulting firm as it is if you were an independent consultant. Your personal brand builds your own reputation within the company and this can be both a blessing and curse depending on what kind of reputation you’re building.
How do you build your personal brand internally? One of the best ways is old fashioned client satisfaction. Since this is essentially what your company makes its bread and butter off of, this is probably the most important. You want to ensure client satisfaction and you can look at previous (as well as future) Consulting Consultants posts for more information on that. But how do you build your personal brand beyond that? Sure, it’s nice for your sales folk to know that by sending you out to a client you’re going to deliver quality, but how do you become one of their first choices? How do you get those hire ups to notice you in a 100+ employee consultancy? The key here is presence.
A sure fire way to make yourself known is to give training sessions internally. If your company isn’t offering this service to its consultants, then you should help them get started. Internal training is key to improving the knowledge of a consulting firm’s knowledgebase. Leading one or several internal trainings is a good way to become known for a particular topic. If you’re know for something, it can help make you the “go to guy” for that skill. Also, giving internal training gets you in front of other consultants which puts a face with a name.
One of the best ways to increase your personal branding in a consulting firm is to bring in projects. Consulting firms drive their figures on how many people they have billing on various projects. If you help to increase that number you in turn directly affect the firm’s bottom line. Directly helping the bottom line gets you noticed in a hurry even if you affect it negatively (though I wouldn’t recommend affecting it negatively, that’s how one becomes unemployed). The key here is to assist in making the firm money. Making people money is a great way to help them remember you.
A lot of what we’ve talked about so far in this “personal branding” series still applies when building your brand within the consulting firm environment. Next week, we’ll finish up this series with a small recap of what we’ve talked about over the past few weeks.