Virtual Work Provides Growing Opportunities

Speaking of virtual work, one of Carol Gould's new clients does nothing but virtual work from their home base in Newark, NJ. I chatted via email with the founders of Consultants2Go, Sandi Webster and Peggy McHale, about their successful business model.

What is Consultants 2 Go? Consultants 2 Go (C2G) is a professional services firm that specializes in providing marketing consultants to the financial services and telecom industry, as well as to mid-size companies. We provide resources on an interim basis or for outsourced projects (full end-to-end deliverables). Our consultants are all seasoned professionals, typically with ten or more years of experience, which allows them to immediately add value to our clients' businesses. We are a minority and women-owned business and in 2006 we were selected as a winner in the Make Mine a Million Dollar Business Contest.

Why did you start Consultants 2 Go? We worked across the street from the World Trade Center at the same company, American Express. After 9/11, we lost our jobs and decided to start our own company with the idea that we could help companies by leveraging our extensive network of marketing professionals.

We quickly realized that we had tapped into the need by these companies for highly skilled marketing consultants and their desire for people that "could hit the ground running." We also realized that we were fulfilling a need by our consultants for more flexible and balanced work arrangements. Many of our consultants are moms or bridge workers (retirees/ex-pats from Corporate America) who wanted a more flexible lifestyle, something that we could provide them with our tailored assignments.

What is the difference—and the benefits—of hiring virtually versus in person? By hiring virtually, you can tap into a much larger pool of resources. You are no longer constrained by the physical geography of your location as a business. It also gives you access to people that are not able to work outside of their home. Often times, there are highly skilled women that can be a tremendous asset but require a completely virtual assignment. In addition, depending on the type of project, different time zones can be beneficial for the completion of the assignment. The team on the East Coast can start the initiative, and the West Coast resources can continue later in the day. This is particularly helpful when you need to complete a project for a client that has a compressed timeframe.

If you'd like to get hired as a virtual consultant, here's the advice from Peggy McHale:

1) Have a clearly defined work space with a dedicated phone line, broad band internet access and a professional email address.
2) Define your work hours. Set up parameters ahead of time so you know when you want to work. This avoids burnout.
3) Stay connected to the business world by joining organizations and keeping in contact with people in your field.
4) Use freeconferencecalls.com to stay connected by phone when you must communicate with groups of people. This facilitates professionalism.
5) Consider a shared server to share files and documents with colleagues and clients. Some people use free GoogleApps.

Tory Johnson is the Workplace Contributor on ABC's Good Morning America and the CEO of Women For Hire. Visit her at www.womenforhire.com.

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