To make it as a Consultant you need to have a high drive for success. Whether you’ve been recruited to provide your expertise and guidance on a large-scale project,, or simply as an extra pair of hands on a project - the end goals of success are synonymous regardless of the project.
The consulting industry is full of high performers with outstanding work experience. There are over 2 million freelancers in the UK according to this report from IPSE, so what does it take to succeed in such a competitive industry when you are competing with the best of the best?
Whether you’ve just started a consulting job or are considering it your next career path, here are the top three things you should master in order to be successful in your first 100 days as a Consultant.
As a Consultant, maintaining a good reputation is key. You never know who will be in need of your services and you can’t predict who your prospective clients will speak with before closing a contract.
In the fast-paced, connection-driven business world, who you know really matters. In order to become a reputable and invaluable referral source, your name should be in front of the masses. This can be achieved through networking and building loyalty amongst your potential and existing client base. Consulting is all about making real connections with clients and prospects. Even more so, it is about maintaining connections with key individuals over time.
When people think of a great Consultant, you want them to think of your name. First and foremost, be respectful of clients and business contacts. Establish trust and remember to keep in touch. Follow up with clients and prospects if you haven’t touched based in a while and utilise social channels like LinkedIn to your advantage. We recommend becoming a member of the Consultant Hub,decause as a member, you’ll gain access to a network of over 40,000 members as well as a variety of networking events.
Having a powerful network can strengthen the pool of resources you can access. If you’re tackling something for the first time, it’s most likely you can find someone who has done what you are trying to do before and would be willing to help you find the answers you seek—or at least help you think about new ways to tackle the problem. There is a lot of power in saying “I don’t know, but I know people who do know.” For example; if your client has a problem related to legal issues, you can converse with a Legal Consultant in your network to help your client find a solution to the problem.
Master the art of communication
According to a survey conducted by O.NET online; “oral expression, oral comprehension and written comprehension are three of the most important skills for Consultants.” Ultimately by mastering your communication skills, you can build trust and understanding with any client.
As a Consultant, you must have excellent communication skills in order to break down complex, technical ideas in a way that is useful and constructive for the client. To provide the most meaningful advice possible, whilst maintaining that the message isn’t delivered in an incomprehensible or patronising manner, a Consultant should understand the backgrounds and knowledge their client has.
Consultants make recommendations about how businesses can achieve goals and overcome problems. A solid understanding of the objectives and problems clients face is essential for Consultants to perform their jobs effectively. Forming such an understanding requires excellent written and oral comprehension and the ability to openly ask questions to clarify points that may be unclear. To make reasonable recommendations, a Consultant should also be understanding of the resources and workforce clients have available to them.
Possessing good communication skills is important for Consultants to avoid misunderstandings. If a client misinterprets the advice given by the Consultant, this may lead the client to make a bad business decision. The client is likely to place blame on the Consultant for providing bad advice and may even ask for compensation or a refund. You can avoid this by communicating precisely to avoid any misunderstandings or confusion.
Play to your strengths - But look at the bigger picture
Becoming a Consultant is all about playing to your strengths - but that doesn’t mean you should neglect your opportunity to look at the bigger picture. Let's say, for example, you’re hired for a role based on your finance and lead generation skills - so you go into the business with the intention of solving smaller business problems in this area.
But looking at the bigger picture, you notice problems around the way the business communicates, which is having a detrimental impact on its performance. Don’t be afraid to make suggestions that could improve the business long-term. You can still commit to the small tasks.
As a Consultant, you don’t have to be a one-trick pony. Core components of being a Consultant are understanding your charges, communicating them to the business and inspiring an action. So why limit yourself to small improvements? If you can inspire a business to make a big change that will be an improvement long term - why not.