Characteristics of an effective consultant
Many recent college graduates are entering the job market, unsure of what career they want to pursue. A career in consulting is appealing because of the variety in daily responsibilities and tasks, attractive salaries and constant learning. What does it take to be a consultant? Consider the definition of consultant. Merion Webster’s online dictionary defines a consultant as a person who provides professional advice or services for companies in exchange for a fee. Sounds like a fairly simple definition. If you apply this definition to job searches, it can become a more complex task.
There are many types of consulting firms, such as Management Consulting, IT Consulting and Finance and procurement Consulting. There are many different types of consulting. You also need to think about the size of the firm you want to join. The range is vast, from niche companies with less than 50 employees to the Big 4 which employ thousands. The choice is based on what the applicant feels will be the best fit. No matter what consulting field a person wants to enter, or which firm they want to work for there are certain key characteristics every successful consultant must possess. These include: having self-confidence, being a good communicator, being a good team player, gaining client trust easily, displaying humility, and having good communication skills.
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Be Confident Do not sound or show unsure when answering questions from clients. Speak authoritatively. When discussing sensitive client matters, you should be as confident as possible. Avoid sounding unclear and unsure.
Show Humility Being humble does not mean you think that you are better than others. When working with stakeholders, do not be arrogant or boastful. You may be working with people who did the same job that you now have to improve or remedy. Remember that the client is at the center of this equation, and it is your job as a consultant to make the client shine.
Listen to the Client The best way to help you solve the problem is to listen to the client’s needs and concerns. Even if you have done research on the client’s business or challenges, or even if you have dealt with this problem in the past, do not assume that you already know all about it. Ask relevant and open-ended question in addition to listening well. The client will feel that you have listened to their concerns and understand them.
Be a team player A great consultant must develop a collaborative relationship between peers and clients. Working with others can not only improve your skills but also allow you to grow your consultancy.
Good Communication Skills Communication is both written and oral. It is important to have the ability to communicate clearly and concisely, both in emails and presentations. Consultants are often seen as Subject Matter Experts. Therefore, being able to communicate a message in writing or verbally is essential to be a successful consultant.
Showcase Expertise The idea of a subject matter expert (SME), again, arises. You (or your company) were hired by a client because they expected you to be more knowledgeable than the internal teams of their company or because they did not have enough time or resources to solve problems. It is important to show your expertise in this area to clients. Continual education will also help you to stay competitive. Always read articles, blogs and whitepapers. You should network with other professionals in the industry to maintain and learn the knowledge expected by the client. Consultants should also be able take a client’s solution from theorem to reality and demonstrate how to maintain and complete it in their environment.
How to Easily Gain and Cultivate Client Trust These skills all lead to the final characteristic, which is gaining trust from your clients. If the client doesn’t trust you, your engagement won’t be successful. It is important to be able to calm concerns and demonstrate value for money paid by clients. This will help you to win future business with this client, or through their referral to others. No matter what discipline you choose, consulting is a business that is driven by people. By developing and acquiring key skills, you can enjoy a rewarding and successful career.