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June 02, 2014

Being a Great Consultant (Not Just a Good One)

Posted 3 years 174 days ago by Sheila Lewis

More and more skilled professionals are trying out the consulting life. It’s not easy, but it can be rewarding and nothing beats working for yourself if you can make it work. Clients, meanwhile, are eager to hire the consultants who will bring the most value to their business. Here are five characteristics that we know for sure will help you stand out from the crowd:

1. Be curious – great consultants listen, ask questions and understand that one-size never fits all. And then, ask more questions to get underneath the problem being described. Understanding the business and the situation before you begin to offer solutions is the hallmark of a confident professional. It’s often not the problem shared by a client that needs immediate attention; it’s something else that created the problem in the first place.

2. Be useful – great consultants provide actionable solutions that don’t depend on keeping the consultant around indefinitely. The best consultants are masters of time management, conscious of cost, make recommendations that are tailored to the needs of the business, and fulfill on the deliverables established at the outset of the engagement.

3. Communicate – great consultants have the ability to take ambiguous issues, identify the heart of the problem, and to clarify that for clients without dumbing down or calling out things that the client may have done wrong that landed them in the situation you now face together. Building bridges between teams and keeping everyone in the loop makes for a happier and more productive project environment. Engaging the entire client team generates contributions and input that may be the missing piece to a successful engagement.

4. Be brave – great consultants find a way to tell clients what they need to hear, rather than what they want to hear. Being brave goes hand in hand with being resilient. Sometimes it’s not going to go your way, and you need to have the self confidence in your knowledge and abilities to bounce back and keep the project on track.

5. Know who’s the star – consulting means providing a service. It can feel terrific knowing that your contribution has propelled a business forward, but in the end everything is about helping the client achieve his or her business goals. Your report card? Another assignment from the same client.

Those are 5 tips for consultants who want to be great. Whether you are a consultant or you hire consultants, we’d love to hear more about what you think makes for consulting greatness.

 

Tags: consulants consulting

Categories: categoryConsulting

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