Top Traits of a Business Consultant
Do you have what it takes to become a business consultant?
A business consultant doesn’t become one without having extensive knowledge and years of experience. However, there are some who go on to be more successful than others. It’s not because of their work history, but because of their traits. There are certain characteristics which distinguish successful business consultants from ordinary ones. If you don’t possess them naturally, you can acquire them through training and conscious effort.
Honesty in business consultants
Honesty in consultancy goes beyond the obvious “do not lie” principle. It is more about not holding back with the client. We have seen executives not be upfront with their clients about what they see because it did not serve their self-interest. When you are working with a client, they and their company come first.
While it is true clients are attracted to those who with impressive credentials, that doesn’t mean you should lie about your accomplishments to pull them towards you. Exaggerating your work experiences and skills might land you a client, but it will put you in a position you won’t be qualified to deal with, causing issues for your client and damaging your reputation in the process. Be honest about your capabilities, and you’ll find the right clients best suited for you. Give details and references so that they can verify your history.
Good Communication Skills
Good verbal and written communication skills are important for a consultant to be successful. They should be able to understand the needs of their clients, and be able to effectively communicate their thoughts and input. Possessing intricate knowledge of the company and industry you are working with enhances your ability to communicate with your clients. In addition to English, it can also be useful to know the language of the client’s employees.
Business Consultants have Expert Knowledge
One of the main reasons you are approached by clients is for your expertise, which they expect to be higher than that possessed by anyone internally. Because of time constraints, they look to you for help in troubleshooting problems with no time to learn about it. Your knowledge should be broad enough to know what questions to ask, where to research for solutions, and when to involve other consultants. If you reach a point where you’re stuck and just don’t know how to solve the issue, have contacts in your network you can reach out to for help and advice.
Your knowledge should also be current – you can keep updated through magazines, training and networking with other professionals in the industry. Know your expertise and your sweet spot, don’t try to be all things to your client. You are doing them a disservice. Every penny they spend should be towards the best person to do the job.
Business Consultant’s Reputation
A business consultant’s reputation is extremely important. They should take care to maintain it above everything else because it’s much harder to fix a damaged one. If you face a situation that can harm you, then walk away. According to the New York Times, 65% of all new business comes from referrals.
People don’t entirely trust business consultants who create solutions out of thin air. Even if you are confident in your abilities, you should consider spending time on planning and investigation. The ability to solve problems based on solid facts and research helps you make sound decisions. Experience weighs in heavily as well, and if you have lots of it, it can be a great asset in making business decisions. You can also visit your local library and check out books focused specifically on your field, and scour through new and relevant researches done in your industry of interest by flipping through top and local research journals.
Because a business consultant or freelancer doesn’t have one single employer, they need to be flexible to be able to respond to the needs of multiple clients around the world. They should adapt to diverse situations and demands. Clients in different locations and from different companies have different values, priorities, and attitudes. Consultants should have people-oriented skills that allow them to understand and serve the needs of their clients.
If you’ve ever worked as a salesperson or are just plain good at convincing people, then your talent can give you a real advantage in attracting new clients. Sell yourself to executives and companies, by persuading them to use your services.
Business Consultants are Sociable
If you’re that person who comes into the office with no intent of befriending anyone – just work, get your pay and go home – then this is not the job for you. Consultancy requires people skills. You should have a sense of humor and confidence that makes people want to be around you and readily trust you. The ability to put your clients at ease lets you draw information from them, helping you to understand their position better. Being confident is a prerequisite when you want to venture out and be a consultant.
It’s very important for business consultants to maintain a professional relationship with their clients. It can be easy for them to fall back on an employee attitude which doesn’t sit well with clients. If you work as a team player and collaborate, it’ll keep the work process smooth and communication clear. Become a good team member by learning from other team members, and genuinely value their expertise and input.