4 Skills That Will Make You the Next Best Consultant
In a competitive industry filled with people with extensive academic and experiential backgrounds, how do you set yourself apart? If you are beginning your journey in the consulting industry, consider the following skills as you determine what you need to be successful.
Attention to Detail: Consultants make evidence-based recommendations to their clients. This is typically in the form of presentations or reports. The ability to produce high-quality, error-free deliverables is critical in building credibility with your client. The research and recommendations can be flawless, however, if the final product is messy or inconsistent it takes away from the deliverable. The best way to improve your attention to detail is to review your work and other people’s work for consistency and errors. As you spend looking through high-quality work, you’ll pick up on the details that make your work look clean.
Structured Communication: Once you have your information ready to go, knowing how to present and communicate your findings is crucial. The rule of thumb when presenting your solutions is: solution first, evidence second. You want to ensure that clients are aware of the solution first before presenting lots of information. Prior to presenting your solutions, assess the presentation and consider: Is the information being presented clear and concise? How can I make sure that clients understand the solutions & evidence without being overwhelmed? Establishing an easy channel of communication with your clients helps them establish trust and confidence in your solutions. One way to develop this skill is when you are listening to someone else speak, think about the main takeaways and how they could have structured their thoughts more clearly.
Time Management: When you take on multiple clients with varying concerns, you should be able to delegate your tasks appropriately. Each client will have their own timelines and expectations, so you need to make sure your deliverables are not only perfectly put together, but also done on time. As easy it may be to lose track of time researching and finding solutions, you should be able to assign timeframes to ensure that you meet deadlines. One way to develop this skill is to practice budgeting time before you start a task. Dedicate a fixed amount of time to planning your work, doing your work, and reviewing your work.
Client-Centric: As a consultant, your primary job is to develop efficient and effective solutions for your clients. Tackling complex problems and deriving critical solutions will require you to think outside the box. However, it does not matter how creative your recommendation is if it will not be accepted by the client or it is not feasible for the client. Consultants are hired to make recommendations specific to that client. You must have a deep understanding of the client before making recommendations. One way to develop this skill is to write down all assumptions you have made about a client and question if your assumptions are actually correct.
Ultimately, consulting is a state of mind. Strengthening these skills are your first steps to setting yourself apart from your fellow peers. Take these tips as a guideline on how to develop the skills while ensuring that you are putting the client’s needs first.
180 Degrees Consulting Waterloo is a branch of one the largest university-based consultancy organizations in the world. We offer affordable consulting services to not-for-profit organizations and social enterprises. The Waterloo branch has consultants from University of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University.
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Written by: Thulasi Mahendrarajah