A truly successful collaboration begins with establishing expectations on both sides of the hiring process. If you are diligent in your selection and interview process, choosing the right consultant is easy. You will know it is a good fit based on these measurable guidelines, and not just intuition.
Check references. When you find someone who you think is the right one, check with former clients. Don't just take their word for it that they are the best in the business. A lot of entrepreneurs are also excellent sales people.
Get clear on your expectations. What tangible results are you expecting? Do you want a certain percentage increase in sales? How will your website traffic be monitored? What is your ideal click through rate for your links? Create and communicate your desired results. You want to be able to see that you are getting a good return on investment.
Set benchmarks. If you are looking at a three-month or six-month contract, how often will you be reviewing key results? What type of results will you be expecting in the first 30 days? 60 days? How often will you be receiving progress reports or is there an affiliate link you can access for real-time results? You want to find out early on if the collaboration is working.
Address communication styles. Be very clear about how you are going to communicate during the process. How often and by what method is best? Do you prefer less interaction and status updates via email, or will you have a set time for each conference call? Tell them the best times to contact you. You don't want to discover into the relationship that you really resent being called on a daily basis if they are someone who needs frequent updated information.
Agree on an exit strategy. If you are a few weeks into the project and they have not performed in any way, make sure you have a mutually agreed upon method for terminating the contract.
Conduct more than one interview. Do not assume that the first person you find is the perfect person, even if it "feels" right. Do yourself a favor and check out at least three individuals or firms. Referrals are great so long as it is a good fit for your needs and personality.
The responsibility for a successful relationship works both ways.
Communicate your level of involvement. If you are a perfectionist and you care about every last detail, communicate that you need to approve every step of the project. Don't make assumptions that everything will be run by you first before it is sent out unless you pre-set that guideline.
Be realistic with turn times. Make sure your expectations for stages of the project are reasonable and mutually agreed upon. If it takes you two weeks to review and edit a portion of the work and yet you want the final back to you within 24 hours, you will create an unbalanced collaboration (and ill will).
Accept accountability. People cannot work in a vacuum, if you promise to deliver a piece of the project that is critical to a job being well done you have to be accountable also.
When you start any relationship with clarity and communication you stand a much better chance of getting successful results with a seamless process.
What would you add to this list? What lessons have you learned? Share them in a comment below.
Arielle Ford has launched the careers of many NY Times bestselling authors including Deepak Chopra, Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, Neale Donald Walsch & Debbie Ford. She is a former book publicist, literary agent and the author of seven books. To learn how to get started writing a book please visit: www.HowToWriteMyBook.com
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