I was talking with a colleague recently. We are both consultants working with senior management of emerging tech companies and both of us are busier than we have ever been. It has been like this through most of 2009 and continues into 2010. This isn't the first time that I have had this conversation or one very similar in the past year with others who do the same thing I do. This often leads to the question, Recession, what recession?
As you can imagine during last year with so much suffering going on, it was not popular to stand and pound our chests about how good things were, so generally the conversations were whispered between those in positions of similar good fortune. This led me to wonder about the two economies that I was seeing and were there any common attributes that defined them.
One of the most striking things I saw was that those who were so busy were getting their work through their network. Even in tough economic times, companies spend money. They spend it with tighter controls, they may take longer to spend it and they certain want greater certainty of return before they open their wallets. And that is why I think so much work comes through your network.
When money becomes such a precious commodity and approval to move ahead on a new initiative or project becomes a rarity, project sponsors want greater level of assurance of success. While leading a bad project may be career damaging in good times, it is fatal in tough economies so the natural human reaction is to default to the people you trust.
I believe this applies not only to consultants but to sales or marketing professionals. The role of trusted advisor is a relationship that everyone needs to develop with their network. It is important in good economies and critical in bad times. Yet it amazes me how many professionals work so hard to build trust with a client during a project and then neglects it and lets it wane after the project is done.
As our economy starts to improve, it is incumbent to prepare for the next downturn. Build you network, develop your relationships and build a discipline to manage and build these relationship after the project is done.