Who brings in the business in your firm? Usually it is the senior managers. Think about how strong business would be if everyone– CEO, CFO, Project Manager, and junior Engineer/Architect/Scientist– also contributed.
What do each of you have in common? Each of your livelihoods are impacted by your contribution to generating revenue. You are either billable or you have a role in bringing the dollars in the door.
Particularly for the junior roles, I suggest you can have a larger impact than you might think.
Life Without Fear
Allow me to share a story of my early engineering career.
I learned how to convert “knowing to doing” starting in my 20s as a project engineer with an A/E firm. One big reason I succeeded is at 25, like many of us, I had no fear! And I had no fear because there were no expectations that I generate revenue for the firm.
With a 98% billability goal, I knew I was not going to be able to woo new clients. I was on the client’s site often, being billable while working on projects.
So, I decided to have conversations with each of my clients while in or near their office. Getting a meeting was easy because they knew I was out and about working on their projects.
I found that I had an advantage by being young. Since my clients were often twice my age, they seemed to enjoy teaching me about their business.
I asked them about their goals, their infrastructure programs and their process for implementing them. They went out of their way to tell me. It felt like a father-son tour when they showed me their facilities to make their points.
I also discovered that my superiors encouraged me to have such conversations. They even sent me to some training about sales. It helped greatly to start off with some of the “knowing.”
When the conversation got going on a particular pursuit, I, of course, brought in a principal of the firm. Pretty soon, work was being booked that I had identified. Suddenly, I also got a lot more respect from the firm’s principals.
People Love Youth
As a business consultant, my clients frequently ask if they should allow junior staff to meet with a new client. They are worried that the junior staff won’t get respect. They suggest that instead they accompany the junior engineer, architect or scientist.
My answer is always, “Yes.” Encourage them to have conversations. Don’t worry too much about mistakes they may make because their youth will receive more forgiveness.
Make sure you prepare the staffer, provide training, and do a debrief. Junior staff are in the field where they encounter the client far more often than most project managers and principals. So, take advantage of the opportunity for largely billable out-of-office client visits.
If you are a junior staffer, change the way you look at your impact. Explore how you can engage your clients and give it a try. The results may surprise you and you just might like it too.