How to Hire a Consultant, Partner, Worker Bee


In this agile world of virtual companies and ad hoc team building you may eventually need someone on your team with a different set of skills and experience. For many of the virtual companies I work with, I am happy to be that extra pair of eyes, that fresh perspective, that silent listener on the client call to give some feedback and direction to the team later. That’s what I do. But hasn’t the term “consultant” run it’s course? I mean, what do you think when you hear the word? My guess is, many of the connotations are negative.

So we need some new definitions as we try to define how to work together. Here are the three roles that most commonly arise during my calls with new and potential clients.


A hired gun required for a specific project, with a fixed budget and a timeline. In the optimal consulting engagement there is a quick start, hyper-focus on deliverables and measured results, and done. When the role moves into more ongoing projects, perhaps it’s another type of engagement you want. A consultant is often more expensive that a partner, due to the limited engagement. And if both teams function well together you wrap up the project knowing you have a new resource in your toolbox.


In this role my company also becomes a selling advantage. As a team we can combine our marketing experience and results to show a new potential client a broader skill set than we would have if we were going it alone. These projects are usually turn-key with hard edges at the start and finish. And each successful project with a partner builds trust and momentum to go after the next deal.

Worker Bee

We don’t need you to interface with the clients in any way, but we would like you to execute on our behalf and work with our account and strategy teams to deliver results. This need may be the result of a new piece of business that the company has not staffed up for, or if could be necessary during the transition of a key team member. These engagements are build on referrals by other companies who have used your “worker bee” services in the past. This is a get-r-done role. No frills and bells. Sign the NDA and get started. These roles tend to be client-based rather than project-based.

This morning I was asked, “How many hours a week do you have available to us, if we decide to move forward?” That is a beautiful question for any consultant, partner, or worker bee to hear.

Another great question came up, “Do you work on a per-project basis, or do you work by the hour?” And again, I think my response was illuminating, even for me.

“I can do it either way. I can go after the work with a budget in mind, or we can put together a bucket of hours and a rate and work towards those numbers each week, or month. It’s up to you.”

Regardless of your needs, a consultant can probably work within your budget, time requirements, and client-contact needs. I am flexible and happy in any of the three roles and even some hybrid roles. Again, we are in these projects together. The only way I’m successful is to deliver the project on-time and on-budget with a happy client on the other end. I have two clients to please: you my working partner, and your client. If we work well together we can wrap up one contract and start another one. That’s what I do everyday. And I’d be happy to talk to you about how my experience in digital marketing for both B2B and B2C clients can benefit your team and your client’s success.

“It’s up to you, how we work together. But let’s do work together.”

John McElhenney
@jmacofearth (also seen on Google+: jmacofearth)

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