Ten years ago, I took the initial step to becoming a Project GLAD field consultant. I quickly realized that my network expanded to outside school districts. I learned that I had to take a different approach to grow my reach. I stumbled and failed many times, but I used those experiences as building blocks. As I gained more experience with networking, I found key skills to assist me in my journey. While building potential working relationships, there are key factors that I use to build a positive relationship with a future client that is interested in Project GLAD.
My first step is to understand the client’s needs. Once a school district has expressed interest, I conduct some research about the school district and the school that is requesting services. I examine the school’s demographics and explore the initiatives that the school/district is currently implementing. This allows me to address the specific needs of the school. Next, I build a positive relationship with the director or the principal. This is key to moving forward. I establish a positive relationship by making a personal connection with the client who is interested in Project GLAD. I do this by being attentive during conversations and picking up interests the client may have. For example, where they went to college if they are a dog or cat person, or any books they have displayed. This allows for authentic conversation and establishes more of a personal relationship instead of a relationship solely based on a service. Creating a connection increases your network and allows you to meet new people in the process. During this time, I have the administrator take a needs assessment. This is my opportunity to have a transparent conversation with the client about their needs. It allows me the opportunity to discuss my observations that I explored in the initial contact. This allows me to refine my pitch. After the needs assessment, I go back to my initial step and design a pitch that is tailored to the needs of the identified school. I examine the initiatives that the school is implementing, and I highlight how Project GLAD is a multifaceted professional development that incorporates the current initiatives. During this time, I include compelling stories and results that other schools/districts have experienced with Project GLAD.
The key to this process is to maintain open lines of communication, a positive attitude, and building a personal and professional relationship. Moving to a consultant position has refined my marketing skills and my networking skills. This was a process in which I had to grow and become comfortable with expanding my skills. The more you network, the more confident you will become in your role as a field consultant.