The gift and curse of the outside consultant is seeing opportunities for the client to do things differently. Better ways to collaborate; new strategies to support their stated goals; different delineations of responsibility and team structure; everyone working in this position will have favorites, go-to perspectives, and unique offerings. It’s natural to start developing an agenda of ways you want to help guide your clientele.
Every time you suggest one of these changes, you’re wagering some trust. If your client’s in a place to be receptive and try things on, they take your wager–and things from there get interesting. That’s the addicting part of the job.
Thing is, that’s not what always happens. If you’re making suggestions that your client’s not ready for, or you don’t have the rapport established to support, you’re putting up that wager of trust…and getting nothing for it. When you run into this, drop your agenda and get back to working the relationships. It may feel frustrating, but this is normal, cyclical, and fundamental.
It’s not starting from scratch. It’s starting with context, and it’s easier each time.