4 Lessons from My First 4 Months as an Independent Consultant
Monday, September 12, 2022, was my first day as a full-time independent Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Consultant. After 4 years as a Management Consultant in a Fortune 500 firm, I launched my DEI practice specializing in sustainable Employee Resource Group enablement and inclusive employee experience design.
Cue the fastest four months of my career and here we are, confidently finding flow as a business owner with plenty of learning along the way.
Here are four lessons from my first four months as an independent DEI consultant.
Loneliness is real but preventable.
Loss of human connection was my biggest fear in going independent. Going from one of the largest global companies with a local office headcount in the thousands and frequent cross-geography collaboration, I couldn’t fathom what working alone would be like.
Sure, I had my client counterparts to engage with, but I missed the social aspects of an internal project team. Additionally, having folks available for near-instantaneous feedback, ideation, and support was amazing and truly improved the quality of my outputs.
A few months before my exit, I began intentionally building my network of entrepreneurs. Once I launched my practice, these efforts went into overdrive — a deeply uncomfortable process of truly putting myself out there. Through networking events, professional memberships, mentorship programs, coffee chats, and re-intros to old connections, I’m relieving my fear of professional isolation. Thank goodness.
Yes, there are days where I have the croaky “clearly these are the first words I’m saying aloud” voice at 2 pm. There are also days when I don’t talk to anyone (AKA my happy introvert days). Balancing those are chatty afternoons at downtown co-working spaces, spontaneous calls starting with “HELP, I THINK I MADE A HORRIBLE MISTAKE”, and the instantaneous magic of “we just met, but we’re going to be best friends” that I thought I left in the schoolyard. Best of all, I’ve held onto the most meaningful connections from my prior employer. Many of whom I have developed deeper…