Serving as a trusted consultant financial professional is a deeply rewarding career. Working with a client is a special relationship built on trust, both for the value of work and advice one brings from the outside. While the “inside/outside” role can enrich your perspective and value, it misses one important factor. Independent consultants need affiliation and community to truly grow professionally.
Where to Turn to Learn. We become better professionals when we can explore ideas, strategies, ways to solve business challenges and to share what we know with others. As allies, we help each other to deepen our skills and contribution. It is an easy way to gain insights from the experience of others.
Where to Lean for Help. When a task or scope of work is larger than one can manage, asking for help from reliable colleagues on which you can count makes it possible to take on larger projects. If we have a question about a client topic, we have colleagues we can easily ask for ideas or solutions. It provides a safe harbor to discuss any unique or sensitive issues and find healthy solutions.
Balancing Strengths. We are not all great at the same things. Some financial pros design the solutions and produce the work, while others manage the work. Some love complex technical problems while others love translating into business advice from a financial perspective. Working in a team makes it possible to partner with people to balance out your strengths with those of others. Co-selling and co-managing enlarges the types of opportunities. Working together rounds out our skills and helps us to “team and tackle” what may otherwise seem overwhelming.
Managing the Unexpected. Surprises can happen. If an illness occurs, an independent professional can struggle to resolve coverage of the work. Affiliates can solve this seamlessly by taking the mantle for the time in question. That is one less stress on the plate.
Deepen Our Value to Clients. Client needs can be broad as well as dynamic. Organizations change and their needs do as well. It is good to be significant contributor. It is even more so to have a team of diverse talent ready for new organizational needs as they evolve. The more ability we have to meet client needs, the deeper we build our relationships and long-term value to their success.
Sharing the Load. Consulting involves marketing, business development and client work. Working independently to cover all three can be a challenge. Combining forces to share the marketing and business development reduces the individual effort and increases the effectiveness of the effort. It also helps build a more familiar and sustainable brand.
We Are Human. From birth, we shape relationships and create interpersonal networks. Learning to give and take teaches us about healthy interdependence of family, community, and culture. Humans do this naturally since we are biologically designed to live, play, grow, and work in groups. Essentially, humans are social creatures. As Bruce Duncan Perry, M.D., Ph.D., “Affiliation is the strength that allows us to join with others to create something stronger, more adaptive, and more creative than any individual — the group.” [i] Joining together makes us more socially fit, better mentors and executives.
There are many ways to affiliate. Some professionals join associations of like-kinds professions. These offer several opportunities, including:
- Jobs. Many associations assist members to find jobs and offer up job listings other members may have.
- Mentoring. Association often advocate for mentoring, since have the ability to introduce younger professionals with someone more experienced.
- Skills Development. Many organizations offer professional development via courses, workshops, publications, and information on their website shared only with members. They also distribute information about industry trends and how to deal with them.
- Network.Conferences held by associations let you mix and mingle with others in your field in both social settings. Job fairs let you can make contact and stay up to date with companies who are hiring.
While professional associations are a great resource, the connections are more intermittent, based on the events held. Associations are a complementary way to both learn and give back to your profession.
Another way to affiliate is to become a partner in a professional services organization, such as is ours. We believe deeply in the value of a collaborative team of professionals who support the success of both our clients, our partners and our colleagues. We believe in the intrinsic value of “the power of one” in making a difference. We welcome any financial professional who seeks affiliation as part of life and work to visit and learn more about joining our team.