Ten Things You Need to Know, if you are thinking about doing work as a consultant
ILEX meeting American Library Association, San Francisco Sunday June 17, 2001
“Some are born consultants, some achieve consultancy, and some have consultancy thrust upon ‘em.”
With Malvolio in Twelfth Night, I had independence thrust upon me, when I was downsized from the H.W. Wilson Company in early 1997, a year after they ceased publication of the late, lamented Wilson Library Bulletin. Moving smoothly from Shakespeare to paraphrasing Ghostbusters, now I am more inclined to say, “Back off man, I’m a professional.” Or to remind myself, still in Ghostbusters mode: “This is the private sector. They expect results.”
So like Huck Finn, I promise to tell the truth mainly, and I should start by saying that I did not choose this, it chose me. But if you find yourself in a similar situation, here are ten things you ought to know.
1. What is it that you know?
2. Why would anyone want to pay for it?
3. Tell everyone you know. Then tell them again.
4. Wait for the opportunity, but create the opportunity also.
5. Be a professional.
6. Keep your work separate from your life.
7. Charge what your work is worth.
8. Give good value.
9. Surround yourself with the right tools.
10. Or maybe in the end I should say, “Don’t try this at home.”