- The meta-meeting. I first heard about the meta-meeting from my friend and fellow consultant, Steve Morris. The meta-meeting is “the meeting after the meeting” and it’s typically where the “real” information is exchanged. For example, if after one particular team-building session the CEO says, “Hey Ryan, could you come in my office for a minute? And close the door behind you.” I know I’m headed for a meta-meeting. Clients don’t do that with consultants they don’t trust and/or don’t appreciate their feedback/coaching. If this is happening to you on a regular basis, take it as a positive sign you are moving toward “trusted advisor” status. (Side note: It’s also a sign for you to start working on their culture).
- You are invited back. A proud moment for any consultant or speaker is being invited back to speak at the same conference/meeting/gathering to present year-on-year. Usually, you have “brought the crowd to their feet” in some form or fashion and have raised the roof on your “happy sheets”. While this is a positive sign, an even more positive sign is being invited back to work for a client. A return engagement, a renewed contract, or maybe phase II of a project. When you have been invited back, you’re dong good work, you’re adding value. What percentage of your total revenue is generated from repeat business/clients? If it’s less than 75%, you may need to consider if you’re being invited back enough.
- Your clients put you in front of their clients. To me, this is the crown jewel. I’m not talking about referrals. I’m talking about you representing your client at a conference/trade show/meeting as a value-add, best-practice, or piece of expertise you bring. If your clients trust you enough, believe you are professional enough, and are able to represent their company well enough to put you in front of their clients, you are doing a good job. This illustrates a high level of trust and elevates you to the status of true “partner” with your client.
If these three intangibles are happening for you, my hunch is you’re doing consulting. Keep up the good work.