The future of work may mean more time working independently, but does that mean more time alone? If so, how do you manage that? In our latest survey to consultants you told us you wanted to connect. We have been speaking to some of our consultants to find out what connecting really means and how it can be of value.
Edwin is an independent consultant with a specialism in procurement and supply chain. He has worked internationally with retail and consumer goods clients for 8 years.
How do you overcome the solo feeling of independent working?
It is really about building the relationship with the client team. Not only the direct client who is hashing out the requirements, but if you get the opportunity, working with the guys in the extended team to get an understanding of what they are trying to achieve. It is also important to see their ways of working, how they bounce ideas off each other, because quite often when you are working as a consultant you do have that third party view of ideas.
Working as an independent consultant you have an idea of how you would approach the problem, but you’re not quite ready to bring it to the engaging client yet. In that case I would turn to extended colleagues in the client team or people who I have worked with in my network previously, whom I keep in contact with on Linkedin. Linkedin is very much a source of ideas and mentoring for me. I also use online resources such as procurement forums, specific industry forums and networks.
What was the last non-human object you spoke to in the absence of a colleague?
I haven’t really spent much time working alone as I’m mostly onsite, so no talking to non-humans for me!
What’s the longest you’ve gone without talking to another human?
When I am working offsite I’d say the longest I’ve gone is about 2 days.
How do you bounce ideas around when you’re on your own?
I write them down and save ideas for when I can bounce them off another human, often these ideas come and go so it is important to jot them down as they come. Having time away from a client or a network gives you that additional time to think out your ideas and develop them rather than blurting them out straight away. It helps you articulate how you would approach that idea. I also often bounce ideas off people in my personal network from LinkedIn before taking them to a client.
What does your ideal virtual network look like?
With LinkedIn I know that my connections are people that I have met and worked with in the past which is why I feel I can approach them, I can trust them. Whereas if it were a new network, with individuals where I hadn’t worked with them in the past I would be a bit more hesitant, because we are potentially competing consultants for the same type of work or engagements. What would be important is to give people the opportunity to state why they want to be part of the network. I would want to know what individuals are willing to share. Having the ability to state what your areas of expertise are, and why you are in this network - whether that be to gain knowledge, share knowledge or be social. Maybe location and whether they’re open to meeting up in person or chat online. I need to know what they want to gain and what I can put in.
How do you keep in touch with your industry / market to ensure you stay relevant?
Linkedin and Gartner are huge sources of information, as well as the Financial Times and the news. To keep up with my industry - software and the supply chain space - it is a combination of the media, news, LinkedIn and my network in general. I look at what kind of engagements are floating around, what kind of rates and time periods give me insight and keeps me up-to-date on what the clients are looking to do.
Looking at the procurement supply chain space there is a lot of focus on automation, AI and technology, and how that can support in efficiencies and ultimately lowering the costs around those things. It is more about preparing the current state of processes for the new age of AI as opposed to the actual implementation of AI, we don’t really know how effective it can be but we know we need to get ready for it.
If you want to find out more about what Talmix could do to help you connect with other consultants get in touch!
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