Whether you are looking to supplement your current income or focus full-time on a consulting business, commanding top dollar is always the goal. To become a top performer, it is critical to have more than just a shining resume. You must possess certain traits that support your professional experience. Demonstrate that you have these key characteristics and you are on your way to consulting success.
Stand By Your Word.
To attract attention from applicable businesses, you must keep your word. This means delivering what you promised on time. While many believe this is a simple task, it is easy to over-promise and under-deliver, especially at the beginning of your career. Instead, don’t commit to anything you can’t reasonably do (or learn to do) within the time frame you set. By being known for keeping your word, you maintain a sense of integrity. Being a consultant requires trust. Show clients that you are reliable and you will earn respect throughout the industry.
Embrace the Menial.
Being a consultant can be a point of pride, but you can’t let it go to your head. Yes, consultants can be highly-skilled individuals, but you must be willing to handle the nitty-gritty that comes with the job, especially in the beginning. Don’t be afraid to take notes when discussing projects with a client and develop a strong organizational strategy to keep your information in order. While you may believe it is more impressive to deliver the goods without appearing to ever pick up a pen, it is better to take notes as issues are presented than to forget an important aspect because you were too proud to write things down. At the very least, invest in a capable audio recorder or voice recording smartphone app so that you can track what is said in a conversation.
Develop a Personal Brand.
One of the main strategies that can separate you from the crowd is branding. For example, Jason Hartman has developed a personal branding methodology that is designed to help any interested person improve their position and become more successful as a consultant, and it isn’t all focused on marketing. While marketing is important, it is vital to determine your niche and sell yourself within it whether that is consulting for certain sectors, specifically-sized businesses, or a combination. Creating a brand that paints you as an expert in your area can carry more weight than aiming broadly.
Don’t be Afraid to Ask Questions.
Even if you truly are an expert in your area, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ask questions. Some people incorrectly believe that asking questions puts their creditability in doubt. When you are working on a new project, you need to ask every question necessary to fully understand the task at hand. In this industry, assumption is not your friend. Even if the new project is similar to one you completed previously, that doesn’t mean the end result should be a perfect replica of your prior efforts. Even when the goals seem similar in the beginning, you need to adjust to the nuances of every client’s needs.
The only way to understand precisely what they require is to ask probing questions. Avoid inquiries that can be answered with a simple yes/no response. Instead, invite clients to fully envision the result, how it will work and what it will look like, and prompt them to express their needs in a more story-like fashion.
Check In Often.
No matter your level of skill or your current reputation, investing in a consultant can be stressful for a business. While your job is to complete the task at hand, you are also responsible for the client’s comfort. This means going out of your way to provide updates even when everything is going according to plan.
In cases where the project begins to shift off track, it is important to be forward with the information. Most businesses know that large-scale projects may require some detours before ultimately being successful. Hiding the fact that the timetable has changed or that the budget needs to be reevaluated is not advisable. However, make sure that as you present the updated information that you also have a solution to the problem you are presenting. That way, you can acknowledge the change while immediately addressing how it will be handled.
Always Give Your All.
Becoming a successful consultant is not an easy path. You must be dedicated to every activity and to each client. If you are not willing to give everything you have every time, then it may be wise to seek another form of work. Otherwise, use the tips above and get your consulting career headed in the right direction.
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