In part 1 of “How personal should you get with clients?” we looked into keeping your perspective as an external advisor, making sure that a water cooler-talk does not get you hosed for disclosing confidential data or bad-mouthing your company and into being aware of the potential pitfalls of calling the client “John”, while all his staff addresses him as “Mr. Doe”.
In this second and -so far- last post on the issue, let’s look at the frivolous side of things – and as requested by reader Sebastian, I’ll look at relations inside your firm as well.
- No getting drunk-drunk.
Let me state it without evaluating it: In many countries, alcohol is part of socializing. You will most likely end up at a restaurant or a bar with your clients once in a while, especially after you and your team did a good job, of course. At those occasions, people will drink alcohol, and you will, too. Now – remember the last time you had a crazy night out with your friends? Hangover and all? You don’t want this to happen.
As consultants, we have a special role when interacting with our clients. Although we only work with them for a limited time, from a few weeks to months, the level and intensity of interaction is very high. With that, naturally, comes getting to know each other. Long meetings and long working days spent together, water cooler-talks, joint team dinners, etc., often lead to a certain level of intimacy. But how personal should you get? Where are the boundaries, and what are the pitfalls?
- You always work FOR them.
Even if you achieve your results in strong collaboration WITH them – which is for sure my preferred way of doing consulting – you are still hired as an external advisor. This distance is important to keep perspective.