Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Growing Consultants

Yesterday's Washington Post had several articles on Defense Secretary Robert Gates' new focus in defense spending. The article above the fold explained that Gates is moving away from high-tech spending to a focus on lower tech weaponry. The article below the fold points out the impact it will have on jobs in our area: Contracting Boom Could Fizzle Out We are in the DC area, in case anyone didn't know that - the Washington Post IS my local paper.

We own/operate a small engineering consulting company. We don't do govt contracting ourselves, but we get a sense of what's going on because we are active in the local IEEE (that's the Institute for Electrical and Electronic and all other Engineers) Consultants Network. When contractors "contract" (uh, shrink) that means engineers move from being employees to becoming unemployed or becoming consultants. Or both, because let's face it, saying that someone is "really good at marketing, for an engineer" is damning them with really faint praise.

Even before this military spending shift, the IEEE National Capital Area Consultants Network had been getting a boost in attendence because of the economic downturn. The Consultants Network started running a series on how to get started, called the Art of Consulting. In fact, the first session saw a record setting 60 people register for it.

Many, maybe most of those new folks, don't have websites. What websites they do have - hell, even the website for the consultants network itself! - tend to be just awful. The second page of the CN's website still contains that sample Latin "lipsum orem" text, for goodness sake.

All of these new Engineering/Programming/etc consultants need help. They have been thinking like engineers all their lives, and engineers are not known for their social skills, their communication skills, or their marketing skills. They have been employees all of their working lives, so they think like employees and not like owners/business folks. They 'get' Linkedin, sort of, but they don't get Facebook, professional blogs, or Twitter. They understand bullet points, but they don't have a clue about CSS, SEO, or Joomla!, or pleasing/professional looking graphics on a web page.

These newly and soon-to-be minted consultants need the help of the Consulting Network, its experienced consulting members, the greater IEEE (which has SOME articles on consulting on its web site ... with URLs over 200 characters long - I swear I heard Twitter laugh at them), and local resources such as Joomla! or Drupal web professionals, marketing professionals, basic business professionals. It would be great if they could join more expensive marketing education and support services such as Stompernet (we are getting incredible help from Stompernet ourselves).

So, if you are in ANY of the aboved named groups - how about attending the next Art of Consulting meeting? Tuesday, April 21, 2009, in Northern VA. Detailed information is at

I might even see you there - I've threatened to film the speaker!

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