A few weeks ago we received a note from a Maven who had just scheduled his first Telephone Consultation. Having never participated in Maven before, he was a bit apprehensive about it, and asked us what he should expect during the call. Based on our conversations with several experienced Mavens, we came up with some guidelines for a successful Consultation. Here are guidelines for the first few phases of a Consultation; we’ll post the rest next week.

The Introduction

At the beginning of the call, keep introductions to a minimum. Bear in mind that the customer has already seen your full Maven profile, as well as your comments and answers to questions you provided when you accepted the invitation to consult, so they already know quite a bit about you. The customer will appreciate your brevity and desire to make the most efficient use of their time.

The Evaluation

Much more important than the Introduction is what we call the “Evaluation.” Spend a couple minutes evaluating the customer’s needs and their existing understanding of the topic. It is important that you understand the basics of what the customer hopes to learn from you and their level of proficiency so that you can focus on their specific areas of interest and avoid being overly complicated or simplistic in your explanations. The most successful Mavens tell us that this is the most important part of the Consultation. Understanding the customer’s background and needs is critical to the next step, namely…

The Assessment

At this point, you should provide the customer with a short and HONEST assessment of your capabilities vis a vis their areas of inquiry. Tell them what you can help with and what you can’t. Don’t overstate your capabilities – the customer will appreciate your honesty. The last thing you want to do is misrepresent your capabilities and end up wasting the customer’s time, which they will definitely NOT appreciate.

Next week we’ll tell you about the last two phases: The Meat and Potatoes and The Conclusion. Stay tuned…