The consulting industry is field with high performers from top schools with great grades and interesting work experience. So, how do you compete in such an environment? Here are a few characteristics that will lead you to be a successful consultant.
- Professionalism – Be a professional. Any new or prior client relationship should remain at a professional level. Remember, when working for a client you are the consultant and not the employee.
- Time Management – There is nothing annoying then being with someone who can’t manage his time. So always find ways to adjust your work style to accommodate the schedule, budget and overall requirements of the project.
- Judgment – When you are a consultant, you need to realise you are brought on project because you can bring something on the table. So when a dilemma is presented to you consider the facts and then pass your recommendations.
- Team Player – Even though you are a consultant (a lone wolf), you need to be a team player. You never stop learning and working with a team makes you learn more and more. It is important to establish a collaborative relationship with peers.
- Good Communication Skills – It is imperative that you should have excellent oral and written communication skills. As you are often viewed as the subject matter expert, you must be able to communicate our opinions effectively.
- Expert Knowledge – There are two reasons why a client approaches an external consultant –
1) the consultant is more knowledgeable in the subject matter then the organizations resources
2) because clients do not have sufficient time to solve their own problems. As a consultant, you should have a broad knowledge of the subject matter.
- Good Listening Skills – As a consultant, you will attend meetings where you will come across various kinds of people with unique characteristics. Some will be verbose, others reticent. Good listening skills will ensure easy of communication, leading to more information flow.
- Roles and Responsibilities – Know what you are signing for. Always check on what you are being approached for. Define the responsibilities of their role, as well as the practices and parameters of the job. Clarifying your client’s expectations and deliverables beforehand may possibly be the single most important task one undertakes.
- Involve Other Consultants – If you are not an expert in a certain subject matter, pass it on to someone else. It doesn’t make you incompetent, rather it makes you incompetent if you try to be someone else. Saying “I don’t know” is a good answer to a question, but even better is “But I know people who do know.” So go ahead and call someone else.
- Reputation – Your reputation is everything. Protect your reputation, cause if it is once damaged, it will be harder to repair. If uncertain of a particular situation, walk away. Better to lose a project, then your reputation.