Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Rules of engagement

When hiring a consultant for a project or event, the client may think all they need to define is the deliverable, timeline and price. This is a good start but there’s a lot more that you, the client, should be concerned about when selecting the best consultant.
Here’s a checklist of what to look for or ask:
  1. Samples of their work – Even if the samples are not exactly what you are contracting them to do, you will get a sense of their accuracy, creativity, professionalism and attention to detail.
  2. Degrees of success  – When looking at their samples, ask what various projects achieved. This will tell you how well the consultant executed a job to attain a desired result for the client. (Don’t expect metrics on everything; feedback from users is also valuable information.)
  3. LinkedIn profile – Do they have testimonials that overlap in regard to positive statements about attitude or manner of execution? These are the consultant’s strongest traits. Do they match your needs?
  4. Handling details - How will the consultant work with people in your organization? When they send an e-mail, do you expect them to ”cc” three others or just direct the e-mail to you, the hiring client?
  5. Responsiveness - Do you expect phone calls returned the same day or is a range of one to three days sufficient? Ask what their normal turnaround time is for these methods of communication.
  6. Are they on time? When you are holding a meeting, photo shoot or event, are they on time and ready to start attending to the project or do they often run late and make excuses? (Cut some slack for traffic, bad things happening, or parents of small children. If lateness is a pattern, they don’t value your time or theirs.)
  7. Personality - You want to do business with someone who makes your day brighter rather than darkens the doorstep. Be attuned to a positive frame of mind, kindness, a nice smile, a genuine laugh. Choose someone you want to be around.
  8. Confidence – Do they seem to like and know what they are doing?
  9. Passion - Do they appear to relish the project you are offering? Are they excited about it? Or do they discuss reasons why it won't work? If they are passionate about why it won't work - listen to them; they may know something that you should too.
  10. Traits of a mentor – In addition to having the consultant do a project or event or work on retainer, could you learn something from them in terms of work style, attitude, ability to cut through red tape, how to deal with difficult people, how they deal with problems? If they also have these traits, consider it a bonus.

If your consultant meets your expectations for most or all of these “rules of engagement,” you found a great hire. Game on!

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