This article discusses some of the steps to take if you are striving to become a world-class SAP consultant.
Firstly, let me make a few "for granted" statements:
The consultant in question is honest and has genuine integrity.
The consultant is not lazy or afraid of hard work.
The consultant has an abundance mentality - "There is enough for you and me in this game".
So, assuming you have the above-mentioned qualities let's work on what steps I would take to get to the next level. What do you need to focus on?
Five Tips for Becoming an SAP Consultant
- BECOME A MASTER OF YOUR DOMAIN: The key to success is to be good at what you do. Learn everything you can about your topic. Talk with peers, read the help files, go through every configuration option possible, write programs, do exams… Once you’re good at what you do you can start to share that with others.
- WORK: It's a four-letter word for some but not for those who want to get ahead. Work hard, work smart!! Focus on your core skill and find a niche in that area that either brings value to a customer through added revenue or cost savings.
- GAIN KNOWLEDGE: Get a mentor. Latch on to the knowledgeable people on the project around you and learn all you can from them. You don’t know it all. Learn from them. What a unique opportunity to go from project to project and work with different individuals each time. This varied experience you gain from others is absolutely invaluable and is not found in any book out there. Remember that you will meet other consultants doing the same as you, so share with them as well. You cannot expect others to share with you if you don't share it with them.
- MARKET YOURSELF:
- Resume - Load your resume out there and make it searchable - Don't put a phone number - only an email address. Be prepared for people spamming you but the alternative is that no one is able to find you out there should they be searching for your type of skills.
- Writing - Write on the topic that you specialize in.
- Speaking - If you are comfortable with public speaking then use that to your advantage. If you are not comfortable speaking in front of an audience, break through the fear and do it. It's not that bad. I hated public speaking at school and now I can easily talk in front of large audiences anywhere. The key is to understand that you have a valuable message to tell and the audience has come to hear you deliver that message to them. They are eager to learn from you so go ahead and teach them. Where can you speak?
a) Webinars - ASUG, SAP, and others have webinars on a regular basis - Just apply to speak
b) Seminars - SAP Insider is a popular one - They have many related conferences and seminars - Submit an abstract and go from there.
- NETWORK: Now that you are a master of your domain and you are getting visibility of yourself in the right circles it's time for some networking. You need to be constantly looking for new experts to discuss ideas with. Once you establish a network you need to nurture those in the network. These are your trusted peers, but they are also people too. Don't only hook up with them when you need something. Find out how each is doing and nurture the relationship. I find the people in my network incredible and have treasured every experience I have shared with them and hopefully, they will share with me. People are what makes this job enjoyable.
How to Ensure you Have a Long and Successful SAP Career
Now that we've discussed what steps to take if you are striving to become a world-class SAP consultant, we will provide more details on how to network, market yourself, and outline the key steps to a successful SAP career.
- Web - The web is the easiest most efficient way to keep in touch with those in your inner circle. In addition, it is also a good way to start new relationships with your peers. The web shrinks the whole world down on to your computer. I have great peers in Germany, Poland, India, Australia, South Africa, … and have yet to meet most of them but I consider them all pretty close (and I do hope to meet-them-all-one-day). The usual sites like SCN and LinkedIn are good places to see what others are up to.
- Conferences - Go out and talk to people at conferences you are attending or speaking at. Remember that these people are attending the same conference as you so they are likely to share the same interests and possibly skill set as you.
- Projects - This is the most effective method. As you move from project to project working with your peers you can choose the ones that you want to associate further with and also those that you don't. When you leave a project make sure that you are linked up (or LinkedIn) with those that you wish to communicate with further.
- Be on the lookout for people that are going places - movers and shakers. Feed off their positive excitement and become a mover and shaker yourself.
Build a reputation for yourself, get involved in the community, and share your knowledge! Let me break down some real ways of marketing yourself and building up your reputation. Remember that if you are going to get your name out there, be sure that it's a good name. Don't do anything to hurt your reputation. Be honest and fair in all your dealings. Write on the topic that you specialize in. The following are areas that you need to focus on:
- Blogs - Write your own blog about what you are up to in your space and what you see happening around you.
- Whitepapers and Guides - Write papers and guides for popular websites (like this one!)
- Books - If you have the time and the inclination this will really set you apart from your peers. Approach SAP Press to see if they will publish your manuscript idea.
- Social media - Use the social media available out there intelligently - Once again, my good friend Jon Reed has it down.
- LinkedIn - This is my preferred way to stay connected with my peers in the industry. I don't mix it with social connections (I use Facebook for that) and I ensure that it's up to date with my latest happenings - Connect with your peers so that if you have questions that need answers you can fire it off to your trusted inner circle. In addition, join the relevant groups on LinkedIn and read their archives and answer questions that you know the answer to. Be sure to add value to these posts. Don't be one of those people just looking for the points (like those on SCN).
- SCN - Write blogs, contribute towards the wikis, utilize the forums, get involved…. SCN makes for a nice searchable resource for those looking for skilled people. Make sure you have a good positive presence out there.
- Twitter - I am not that big a fan of twitter outside of using it at events. Some recruiters and peers of ours do like twitter so we need to get a presence there too. With its integration to LinkedIn, I can now update one place and communicate with both mediums. One nice thing with Twitter is that you can update it from your phone and then have your blog/website hook into your tweets automatically. I.e. you can update content on your site quickly from your phone anywhere.
- Facebook - I use Facebook pages as another medium to share tips and tricks - Some folks like to use Facebook, so once again, leverage the medium that others are using to consume data - See here for an example of a page I maintain for SAP Event Management details.
- Be smart when using social media to share. Find a service where you can make one post and it automatically sends it to LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. I leverage WordPress or Blogger to post and both of these can be linked to your social media so that you hit all the needed channels whenever you update your blog. Saving time and making it easy to do social media is key to being able to maintain the process going forward - Don't SPAM people with useless information - Make each posting valuable otherwise you will have a reverse effect on your need to gain a following.
Always Work Hard and Work Smart
I know this is a lot of information, and it can be overwhelming as a new consultant. So if you have to break down the key points for success throughout your career, keep these at the top of your list:
- Maintain honesty and Integrity - The SAP world is still small and word gets around about whether you have done well or whether you have not!
- Strive to be the best at what you do - Don't settle for mediocrity, strive for greatness.
- Find a value niche in your focus area and run with it - Focus your talent and be the best at it.
- Work hard and smart.
- Network with movers and shakers.
- Market yourself through writing and speaking engagements - If people don't know who you are, what you do and how good you are, what good is that?
- Contribute to the SAP community network – Get active, get involved.
- Have an abundance mentality – Share your knowledge with others, there is enough to share with others.
- Continuously monitor market trends and adapt accordingly.
- Get excited!!! Have fun with it. People will feed on your passion and excitement
Always remember to work hard and work smart! If you are interested in getting started take a look at our SAP course offerings!