How do you get started looking for a consultant or an association management company? The answer is as easy as 1-2-3:
- Use your own professional networks such as Association Forum and LinkedIn to ask for recommendations. You should easily receive 5-10 responses within 24 hours. You will probably also receive a response or two from others who have the same question.
- Next, prepare a well thought-out Request for Proposal to send to those recommended. Your RFP should be as specific as possible concerning your timeline and expected results. Consider including a checklist to help you review the proposals effectively.
- Finally, objectively analyze the proposals. Only consider written ones — a telephone conversation is not a serious bid. Besides reviewing the bottom-line cost, look at milestones and anticipated results. Is there a cancellation clause? A payment schedule?
Initially, you will need to invest some time providing your independent contractor with information about your organization and specific project, just as a manager must train a new employee. If it is a long-term project, treat him/her as part of your staff. Invite the contractor to planning meetings. Update him/her as needed. Excellent communication leads to successful projects and long-term relationships.