On the office side, the short answer is that we become very-expensive support staff.
When “on the beach”, consultants may be required to support their managing directors or partners on drafting proposals to sell new projects – they’re called “Letters of Proposal” at consulting firms, and even at this early stage the proposals already cover high-level diagnoses and initial findings – so there is research, analysis, and presentation work just like in a project. Nonetheless, the best consultants always get prioritized for real projects, so if you find yourself doing LoPs, chances are you need to brush up on your skills and qualifications.
Besides proposals, partners and directors also research publications – and as you may have guessed, beach-time consultants also get staffed into these tasks. In a project life cycle (also explained in our Rookie Consultant product), these publications are the first marketing step leading partners and directors to their prospects.
We can also be staffed in internal projects – which do not directly generate revenue (non-billable). As such, internal projects are often unfavorable in performance reviews – so consultants should focus their efforts on getting external projects.
Sometimes, we even get stuck doing odd jobs such as supporting the support centers (ironic, yes – this may occur if the office director happens to also run a support center). The logic here is when we’re on the beach, we’re under the absolute command of the office director – so they can staff us into whatever job they feel necessary.
On the personal side, the two main focuses of a consultant should be “personal development” and “business development”.
The personal development part is about refining skills and qualifications to stay ahead of the game. Consultants only earn top-notch pay because of their top-notch skills, so we attend training, classes, and courses to equip ourselves with the best knowledge of the preferred industry – even if we slack off for one moment, we start losing value.
The business development part is about selling talents – to directors and engagement managers specifically. The best consultants always do extensive internal networking to make sure they can get the best projects