by helen on September 26, 2011

No, I’m not talking about the unmentionable expletive Newsnight’s Jeremy Paxman stumbled over during a discussion about tax avoidance earlier this year.

But I hope you’ll forgive me for using something controversial to get your attention…

I’m talking about a word that is at the heart of my business and which I wish more people would use when it comes to working with consultants.

And the word is…

Not communication – although I expect that’s where you thought I was going, me being a “PR” and all.

It’s collaboration. Working together with another or others on something.

When I became self-employed eight years ago, it was because I wanted to have more control over the sort of work I did. It wasn’t because I didn’t like working with other people as part of a team. In fact, that’s what I miss most about being self-employed. But it’s a small price to pay for doing something that I really believe in and which has given me fantastic opportunities both professionally and personally.

But even working for yourself as a consultant, you’re never on your own for long. For a business relationship to work well, the consultant has to work as part of the client’s team. And the client has to see the consultant as a team player.

Working together or collaboration always delivers better results.

So my No #1 piece of advice to companies thinking about working with a consultant is to see that relationship as collaborative. A two-way street. Don’t give your consultant a brief and then leave them to it. Get actively involved.

And my No #1 piece of advice to consultants or freelancers like me is to look for opportunities to collaborate with other consultants. For the past five years or so, a large proportion of my business has been carried out in collaboration with other agencies or consultants. Teaming up with people with complementary skills is a win:win for everyone.

And an added bonus for me is that I get the benefit of some of the team spirit that I miss.

Check out if you’re a client looking for a consultant, or a consultant looking for some of that team spirit I mentioned. Expertise, experience and team spirit in abundance here.

Photo courtesy of lumaxart, Creative Commons

Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organisational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.  Andrew Carnegie

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