Project Management

The Freelance PM Consultant: Expand Your Career with the Help of a Mentor

Laura Dallas Burford is the founder of LAD Enterprizes, a management consulting firm that partners with consultants as well as internal and external consulting organizations to successfully build the operational and delivery aspects of their practices. Laura appreciates feedback on her articles and can be reached at She is the author of Project Management for Flat Organizations.

In The Freelance PM Consultant: Knowing Your 'Why' and Your 'What', I discussed five steps to assist a project manager contemplating a career as freelance PM consultant:

  1. Evaluate yourself
  2. Determine your “why
  3. Define your “what”
  4. Establish a support team
  5. Develop a learning plan

Although I could write pages on how to evaluate yourself—enabling you to determine your why and what, or the best way to develop a learning plan—this article focuses on one important member of the freelance PM consultant’s (a solopreneur) support team: a mentor.

A mentor is an often overlooked but important person for furthering a freelance PM consultant’s career. Before I discuss how to find, work with and then say goodbye to a mentor, let’s start by clarifying the difference between a coach and a mentor.

Coach vs. Mentor
A coach is task oriented with performance-driven actions. Coaches focus on refining a person’s knowledge and skills, such as improving their public speaking abilities or their negotiating and conflict resolution skills.

A mentor is relationship oriented. Mentors partner, leverage their experiences and expertise, and build a level of trust, enabling the mentee to feel secure enough to share and discuss issues that are impacting their success.

You might be asking, “As a freelance PM …

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"Judge a man by his questions rather than his answers."

- Voltaire