Hello, AEA365 community! Liz DiLuzio here, Lead Curator of the blog. This week is Individuals Week, which means we take a break from our themed weeks and spotlight the Hot Tips, Cool Tricks, Rad Resources and Lessons Learned from any evaluator interested in sharing. Would you like to contribute to future individuals weeks? Email me at AEA365@eval.org with an idea or a draft and we will make it happen.
Hi, I’m Wheeler del Torro: nutritional anthropologist, DEI consultant, and co-founder of Evaluation + Learning Consulting. Whenever I meet young evaluators interested in breaking into the field of consulting, the most frequent question they ask me is, “Where do I begin?” Today, I’d like to share what I’ve learned about the field through my own experience and through coaching others.
The simplest answer to the question of where to begin is through your network. News about good work spreads, and the field of evaluation is no exception. If you are looking to find your first gig, consider spreading the news about your ambition to previous and current co-workers. Even if they don’t know of current gigs, chances are they will recommend you the moment an opportunity arises.
After you’ve reached out to your current network, it’s time to meet new people! Consider joining your local AEA chapter or other professional network such as the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network. One group of individuals that is often overlooked but provides the best leads are current consultants. I spent years thinking that other consultants were my competition – what a mistake. Not only have other consultants have provided an enriching environment in which to grow my own practice, they brought me onto their own consulting gigs while I was still growing my network.
Be sure to spend time working on your sales pitch. Why are you interested in being a consultant? What do you have to offer the field? The person with whom you are networking? What are you hoping to gain from the connection? Being clear on your answers to these questions will come across to the person with whom you are networking, sending a clear message that you take the opportunity and their time seriously.
Whenever you meet someone new, be sure to keep the conversation going. The next day, be sure to thank them for their time. Keep an eye out for blog posts, articles, or RFPs that speak to the person’s interest, sending them along with a note to check in. This effort will indicate to others that you payed attention to what they had to say, and that you care.
Don’t forget to pay it forward! While growing your business may feel like a daunting task, you won’t always be in this position. As you grow, don’t forget to offer your time – or positions in your own gigs – to others.
In the spirit of paying it forward, please don’t hesitate to reach out if you are an emerging consultant that is looking for advice or your first work opportunity. I’d be happy to chat with you.
For further reading on the field of evaluation consulting, check out the results from the Independent Consulting TIG’s industry survey. While it may be a bit old, the content is evergreen.
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