- Nurture Good Communication Skills
Ah, cliché isn’t it? But do you know what communication skills really are? It is a set of skills that may individually or collectively help you convey your messages to others. It can be writing skill, speaking skill, listening skill, reading skill, body language fluency, intonation control or even the ability to read between the lines.
Why is it so important then?
You are a consultant. A consultant is a person who analyses the problems and devises the solutions. Working in a highly technical field, you might be compelled to put all your focus on that area but believe me, being able to articulate the information, preferably in layman’s terms, is more important. You might be the best in the field when it comes to technical knowledge and expertise, but what’s the point of it if you can’t make people understand what you are saying?
And yes, when we talk about communication skills, we are talking about the entirety of it. You must be able to write, listen, and speak effectively. How do you ask?
Practice, practice, and practice.
- Go beyond
You are not just a mere worker for the company. You are their consultant; they hire you so you can tell them what they don’t know. Critical thinking is thus vital for you to have. Critical thinking is the ability to objectively analyse the problem based on available information and make decisions accordingly.
Being a consultant, you have to use your amounted experience and knowledge to propose viable solutions to your customers.
BUT, Don’t stop there.
You have to think 1 step or 2 steps ahead. Predict what might happen afterwards. Is there a probability of something happening in the future? What is it? How can you solve it without being there? What can they do themselves? What are your suggestions? Give them multiple solutions, provide them with options and supply them with proper knowledge.
When you do this, you are being thorough and most likely, it will ease your work too. People do appreciate the extra effort you put in and this spells good reputation for you and it will do wonders for your next jobs.
- Don’t be afraid to ask!
Sure, you are a consultant, why should you ask other people when it should be the other way around? Well here’s why; there’s no way that you can know everything there is in this field, no matter how proactive you are.
You might be a person who goes to a number of courses and training to increase your knowledge in your particular field. Don’t get me wrong, go ahead, it’s better, even. But, a better lesson can be found in a practical and real-life situation. The problems encountered may be something you never see before but they need to be solved nevertheless, and in a timely manner too. So, how do you do it when things call for a reactive action?
Ask other consultants, ask your mentors, ask your peers. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. It is a symbol of weakness for some, but it is not necessarily true in reality. Asking has been the very core of human’s learning process. We asked our mother about countless things, some of which exhausted her to the breaking point. But, we did learn many things. It’s the same in this case. You might get bashed, or maybe laughed initially, but in the end, you’ll get the answer!
“Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. It is a symbol of weakness for some, but it is not necessarily true in reality”.
Of course, being a professional, you have to ask the questions in a well-structured way. Ask in a way that helps them focus on your issues. Tell them the parameters for example. Or what are the things you have done but were unsuccessful, do your homework beforehand, present the problems articulately, etc.
Help them help you.
- Document your work
At this point, we all know the biggest perk of being an independent consultant is the freedom to work anywhere, anytime; well, for the most of it. But it can also be the biggest downfall for you. Too much freedom and no structure might compel you to do your work as you live; unorthodox and unorganised.
“A good consultant will be able to share their thoughts with others, but a great consultant will be able to impart their knowledge together with practical examples and real-life case study!”
Write and record everything you have done and what you will do. This will keep you in line and stay on track. Keeping yourself organised will help you be more productive too. You would know where everything would be and should be, so you spend less time cluttering your ‘office’ looking for that thing you need, somewhere, probably.
Documenting your work and keeping them organised will also be beneficial for you in a long run. Your next jobs might need your past experiences and where else can you go for references other than your previous works? After all, you are an expert yourself. But, if you didn’t document what you have done, boy, what a loss for everybody; you included.
There will come a time when your peers will ask you for your professional opinion, not for a project, but for the sake of knowledge and self-growth. A good consultant will be able to share their thoughts with others, but a great consultant will be able to impart their knowledge together with practical examples and real-life case study!
As Albert Einstein once said,
“Paper is to write things down that we need to remember. Our brains are used to think”
There you go, from the man himself. If you are not ready to take an advice from us, take it from him.
Documenting also goes a long way in structuring your resume/CV. Handling hundreds of consultants’ resumes and CVs here have taught us something about some consultants; they don’t even bother with their own resumes/CV!
There are numbers of consultants who just copied the job descriptions provided by the employers and pasted it in their profiles. They don’t care about the things that they have done, things they have achieved, and the added value services they have provided. All of these could’ve been a big selling point and it is sad to see how they all go to waste. So, before you write your resume/CV, be sure to document all your works. You will find it easier to write your resume/CV then.
- Build good relationship
“An effective communicator is someone who knows their audience well enough. If you choose to side-line human interactions in this line of work, how can you be a good consultant?”
Being a consultant also means being a temporary ‘staff’ for a particular company. You will be interacting and collaborating with the people within the company. There’s no way for you to circumvent this if you want to know everything that is to know.
Sadly, some consultants out there do not share the same view. They think that they are going to meet these people for just a short period of time and thus, there is no need for them to build a good relationship.
Attitude goes a long way. Even if you are going to be amongst them just for a short while, there is no harm in mingling and interacting with them casually. You might even get valuable information that is useful for your work, who knows?
Being a consultant also means being a communicator. An effective communicator is someone who knows their audience well enough. If you choose to side-line human interactions in this line of work, how can you be a good consultant? So, next time you get a job, socialise, talk to people, don’t be a smug and be on the good side of everybody, if possible.
If everything goes well, you might get professional and personal recommendations from your clients and boy, that is REALLY valuable for freelancers!
We know this personally because most of the consultants here get their next big jobs because of good recommendations from their previous clients. So, still hesitating to talk to that person facing you?Well, these are the 5 things you can do to be a superstar consultant. Why be a superstar, though? Because everybody wants a superstar. You don’t see Messi and Ronaldo looking for clubs do you? Clubs look for them, offering them a whole load of money to play for their teams. They don’t care how much they have to pay because they know these superstars are worth every penny. Cool way to look at it, isn’t it? When you are a superstar, you can demand your worth. So, be a Messi, be, a Ronaldo.