Dress like them
I usually dress as a consultant the first week: suit, blouse and heels. But as days go by I adopt the dress code of either my team or the management I am working for. Without getting into extremes (jeans and sneakers) I’m as relaxed or sophisticated as they are. Doing this allows me to be integrated more quickly and the “external” label will disappear. It’s one of the key success factors of the mission (the integration of course).
Eat with them
Never eat alone and, unless you have an awful lot of work, take your time. This is the best part of the day! You’ll gather more underground information from everyone present, from the new upcoming organization, from your chief (is he well appreciated or not) and opportunities and much more. You may select to eat with your boss one day, the next day with your colleagues or even someone from another department. You’ll hear all the gossip of the company. The trick is: listen to it, filter it, use it but never, never, never join the gossiping yourself.
Do not sign deliverables as a consultant
As I am paid to deliver a service (a document or any other kind of deliverable) I will do my very best to deliver a high-quality document, but I realize that the final product will belong to the company. It will no longer be mine, and as such I will not add my name (unless asked explicitly) or my company’s name. If I work with a team member I will, however, always add his/her name. I have learned, with tears and blood, that as a consultant you have to “erase” yourself sometimes and let other people take the laurels.
Have THE good attitude
Just keep in mind that whatever you are doing to be part of them, you ARE NOT part of the company. It is a thin line between being part of a team at a client and being an employee of a consultancy company at the same time. You might work with your client-colleagues every day, but in the end you will always remain an external consultant and should behave as one. Remember to stay courteous, never bite back and do not enter personal fights or arguments.
Give your opinion and defend it
As an external you’ll be asked to provide your point of view! This is not a trap but a stairway to heaven (credibility). Jump on the opportunity and carry it out in the correct manner. For example, I never compare two companies or badmouth former colleagues, former bosses or situations. I prefer to highlight the good points of each one.
Just keep these tips in the back of your head and we are sure that you will blend smoothly into your new client environment.