What does it take to be successful as an independent communication consultant? How do you transition from your current corporate role, with all the support and resources that come with it, to working on your own? How do you drum up business, manage multiple clients, and handle all the administrivia (like contracts, invoicing, accounting, and travel booking) that go along with going solo? How do you handle demanding clients?
There are thousands of questions facing anybody considering striking out on their own. A panel of five IABC Fellows — all but one of them independent communication consultants — discussed their own journeys and offered a treasure trove of advice to communicators who may be thinking of striking out on their own.
About the panel
Alice Brink is an internationally recognized communications consultant. Her firm, A Brink & Co., works with businesses and non-profits to clarify their messages and communicate them in ways that change people’s minds. Her clients have included Shell Oil Company, Sysco Foods, and Noble Energy. Prior to launching A Brink & Co. in Houston in 2004, Alice honed her craft both in corporate settings (including The Coca-Cola Company, Conoco, and First Interstate Bank) and in one of Texas’ largest public relations firms, where she led the agency’s energy and financial practices. Alice has been active in IABC for more than 30 years, including serving as chapter president, district director, and Gold Quill chair. Alice has been active in IABC her entire career and currently serves as vice-chair of the IABC Fellows Selection Committee.
Dr. Amanda Hamilton-Attwell, accredited by both IABC and PRSA. She is Managing Director of Business DNA, based in South Africa, which provides strategic research and consulting, including communication audits, customer service, and women’s leadership topics. She is licensed in Adobe Connect and WebEx, using these to conduct virtual professional learning and education sessions. and other focused research and training in communication skills. Her career has also included a 15-year stint as a research manager for the National Productivity Institute.
Todd Hattori — After 20+ years of leading in-house communication functions within a variety of organizations and industries, Todd “Tosh” Hattori, ABC, IABC Fellow was drawn to the consulting world by PeopleFirm’s core business philosophy: your people = your success. He leads PeopleFirm’s organization design community of practice, engaging and collaborating with cross-functional teams to address business challenges by designing solutions with their people in mind. Outside of his client work, he serves on the volunteer board of directors for the Technology Access Foundation, a national model/leader in providing Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education to students of color; and improving teacher diversity and retention of teachers of color in Washington. He currently serves as the IABC Ethics Committee vice-chair.
Mary Ann McCauley is committed to ensuring people communicate more effectively about their organizations’ products and services. With a specialty practice in crisis management, Mary Ann addresses sensitive issues with timeliness, dignity, and minimal backlash. “Managing communication during a crisis requires common sense folded into a structured process,” she says.
Angela Sinickas is the founder of Sinickas Communications, which has worked with companies, organizations, and governments in 32 countries on six continents. Her clients include 25% of the Forbes Top 100 largest global companies. Before starting her own consulting firm, she held positions from editor to vice president in for-profit and government organizations and worked as a senior consultant and practice leader at Hewitt and Mercer. She is the author of a manual, How to Measure Your Communication Programs (now in its third edition), and chapters in several books. Her 150+ articles in professional journals can be found on her website,www.sinicom.com. Her work has been recognized with 21 international-level Gold Quill Awards from IABC, plus her firm was named IABC Boutique Agency of the Year in 2015. She holds a BS degree in Journalism from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and an MS in Leadership from Northeastern University.