September 13, 2007

It's Not About You

I was visiting a church last Sunday and the pastor’s sermon started with, “It’s not about you…”. His next four words were “…it’s about God.”, but for this post I’m going to focus on the first half.

As I embark on this journey to be a successful hospitality technology consultant I have multiple times thought about the challenge of how to communicate clearly my desire (my mantra if you will) to help clients be successful. I find this especially difficult as a technology consultant because there are so many of us (versus them). This is also a challenge because many prospective customers have had poor experiences with consultants. How do you convince a customer that your desire is for them to be successful and that you can help create value?

I believe the first thing is to recognize that it is not about you. Focus on your customer and see how they react.

In short, use your ears and listen. Epictetus said it best, "We have two ears and one mouth so we can listen twice as much as we speak."
I’ve posted on this key successful trait before (probably because I recognize how much I need to improve in this area), but I find that listening can help a client believe you want them to be successful. Clients hire you as a consultant because they believe you have or can find answers. And they may be right, but having answers comes with the prerequisite of understanding the problem – vis a vis listening.

Success as a consultant is predicated on your client's confidence that you can make them successful. In your next client meeting build confidence not by knowing all the answers (because you won’t) but by listening and understanding the problems you are there to resolve.

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