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June 9, 2008

And for my next trick...

You have finally made it to the big job, on the big project - and it’s the big one.

You are dealing with complex technical and cultural issues across several continents, languages and time zones. The days are long, the issues are impenetrable, the time frames are tight, and the work is hard.

Added to this is the usual “fog of war”. The ambiguity that goes with a lot of the really large scale projects, coupled with their own blend of problems, conflicts, personality issues and resource shortages.

It has been wonderful and adventurous work, a great challenge, and a vindication of all the efforts working up to this moment.

Then what are you going to do?

You have two choices ahead of you. In twelve months time this experience can turn into

  1. A phenomenal opportunity that will launch you into the next phase of the tremendously exiting novel that is your career – or
  2. A good story

Which do you prefer?

The problem with career management is that most of us do it when we need to, not when we should do it. For example, the time to capitalize on the BIG project is right now. Make a big deal of it, make sure you are able to discuss it with contacts and network friends. (All legally and within confidentiality boundaries of course)

I’m not advocating skipping out, but I am advocating proactive career management.

Make sure that any agencies that you regularly deal with are aware of your newfound experience and the dramatic results you are achieving.

Make sure that others are aware of when you will be available at the anticipated end of the project.

Renew your networking efforts, be in contact with all others in your circle of contacts, and make sure they are aware of the gigantic responsibilities and scope of what you are doing today.

All large projects big with them large opportunities and the ability to expand your carefully crafted networking circle with people who can see your hard work and the value you bring. It is bad form to jump over to the client during the project – but often acceptable at the end of the work.

On the other hand - you may even want to think about stepping out on your own. Big projects bring big reputation value, and even bigger potential for selling your own unique brand of whatever it is you do… that could be the best opportunity of all of them.

At the end of the day this project will be a stepping stone to the next big opportunity – or it will be one of many good stories you can tell aspiring consultants. It is your choice.