Since most recently (2009-2019), the demand for highly skilled professionals has become paramount which led organizations to seek the scarcity of such talent with the help of consulting firms. These professional service providers elevate managerial or engineering departments through sophisticated experts, called “Consultants”. However, being a consultant brings immense amount of personality traits which need to be addressed. It can be challenging to cater all of them, but by incorporating the combination of following repertoire of strategies would only take you towards one of the best out there in the market. These start with:
1. Social Skills
One of the key skills a consultant must have, is vigorously social. That means both verbally and non-verbally.
Make 100% sure your hand gestures and body posture, are equally aligned and not sluggish. Keep a good eye contact while talking and listening.
It is highly recommended to build a great interactive and pleasant personality which can be developed very easily by going to different social events, meetups, conferences, workshops and other social activities.
Effective communication skills is the second best trait any consultant should have.
It is not just about talking or proclaiming to win arguments. It is more about listening by paying proper attention, so do it well and try not to let your client repeat.
Be transparent and brutally honest with your clients during interview sessions. This would make a difference for them to decide and choose you amongst other potential candidates. Remember, most of your consulting work is based on references, so make sure you have established a trustworthy relationship with your past clients who could endorse your experience and skills to land you to your next coolest assignment.
While reading Simon Sinek’s “Start with Why”, it’s found that there are a significant number of people who love to follow a leader. They follow a leader because they want to achieve their goals under a guiding light. Your clients put their trust on you to take a lead and solve the problem they are facing, in a limited time.
So, being a leader, you should set a vision for your customer by showing confidence and perseverance to achieve it.
They are spending a hefty fee to get a clear direction from you in order to achieve what they have dreamed of. Being a consulting leader, it is your responsibility to connect and collaborate with your teammates to achieve what they desire.
4. Time Management
Never be late, whether you are going to attend multiple long hour meetings, daily stand-ups or arriving at office. If you haven’t already, start using scheduler or an organizer now. Usually they come in handy. For instance, your smart phone’s native calendar app. If possible make it publicly available, so your colleagues have a read-only access to it. Time management is one of most valuable and respectful trait any professional could have, and that will make you most respectable professional among many of your colleagues.
5. Know How To Sell
I still remember when I was writing my Master’s thesis on “Cloud oriented ERP Integrations” at Linköping University, Sweden, my supervisor once said, “Your report doesn’t miss any technical knowledge. It is well equipped, but you must learn to sell it!”. I consider that rule applies everywhere in this world.
It is imperative for a successful consultant to pitch their skills compellingly, which would eventually land them to a desirable assignment.
In my opinion, survival of a consultant is nearly impossible if one can’t sell. Try to watch youtube videos on how to sell skills and then combine it with your skillset. You won’t regret the outcome!
6. Technical Skills
Although information technology is one of the most diverse disciplines in the market right now and even after that has merged into many other disciplines, its scope has become limitless.
Being a consultant, you must keep on sharpening your technical skills whether you are a Solutions Architect, Data Scientist, Project Manager, Accountant, Editor or even a Doctor.
Only up-to-date skills would make you remarkably distinctive among many other consultants in the market. That would not only bring you a sense of confidence but eventually make your bank account happy.
7. Be Flexible
There are times when you are assigned to a certain type of assignment, which may be a little outside of your comfort zone. That may also include the change of meeting time at the last minute or a change of writing a new PoC (Proof of Concept). This is the time you will be challenged. So, be flexible to see outside the box and help your clients and acquaintances. This would mark another check to your level of professionalism.
Recommended movie: The Pursuit of Happyness
8. Be Presentable
Last but not least, wear a nice looking and clean attire. That shows how seriously you take your position and why it is important for you. Remember, you need to look different to make a difference. So, always keep a pair of black jeans, chinos, clean pair of shoes, bright colored full-sleeve shirt and solid color sweater. This will help you boosting your confidence!
Besides many benefits, there are few challenges one must keep in mind:
- Multiple roles: Being a consultant, one of most prominent challenge is to jump between different assignments where you might have to recall long-gone skills. It is important that either to depreciate those skills from your CV so you don’t have to embarrass during interviews or keep them fresh and up to date.
- Short term projects: It is possible you end up getting a short-term (2-4 months long) project which would bring you in a position where you have to digest preliminary investigation of that project in quite a short amount of time as well as the time to handing-over would also become shrunk. And as soon as it ends, you start getting prepared for the interviews for your next assignment. Make sure you choose such tasks wisely and don’t start such projects if you are unable to handle tight and stressful deadlines.
- Time tracking: Keep in mind, you only get paid for the billed hours in contrast to a full-time permanent employment. So, you must punch the hours worked by the end of the day or you will forget how much time was spent on a particular activity. Sometimes one might has to adopt multiple time tracking and reporting applications which may seem too mundane to do.