Becoming a consultant can be a very worthwhile occupation. You can leverage your collected life experiences into help for your clients while you make a handsome profit for yourself.
Consulting work is one area where both yourself and your clients come out on top. That is if the work is done correctly. So, let’s look at what it takes to be a great consultant.
What Exactly Is Consulting?
The first thing you should do is to make sure that that the job description fits the services delivered. You should ask yourself, “What is consulting?” It is crucial that you have this clearly defined. You need to have the meaning of consulting in your mind and in your business dealings. It is that important.
With the consulting business meaning being so important, let’s make sure we define it ourselves. According to the Oxford Dictionary, consulting is “Engaged in the business of giving expert advice to people working in a professional or technical field.”
As you can see by the definition, a consultant does not need to be professional in their field, nor do they need to have a doctorate to offer consulting services.
Instead, the primary requirement for being a consultant is to give expert advice. You will want to do everything you can so that the advice and service you offer is of expert quality, and hold yourself to that level of competency.
Giving expert advice is the first step in being a great consultant. But you still have to set expectations.
How to Be a Great Consultant
Setting Client Expectations
As we mentioned above, one of the key points in being a great consultant is giving expert advice. But there is more to the task when you are in the business of consulting. You need to be sure that you set the client’s expectations of what you deliver, and they need to understand this.
The first expectation you need to set is your rate. The client needs to know what you cost, and how it is calculated. Do you charge by the whole hour, half hour, or some other unit of time? Do you charge for phone calls and meetings as well as ongoing work? The client needs to know all of this going into a business arrangement with you.
The next expectation to set is defining your deliverables. Are you giving only technical advice to a project the client is undertaking? Or are you building a software piece that the client will incorporate later?
You could even be creating a technical document, and it needs to be understood that the deliverable in question encompasses everything up to a specific date only.
Like so many other products and services, one of the critical components in successful consulting is to manage expectations. Setting expectations up front makes the entire process simpler for everyone. This too will help in making you a great consultant. But there is one thing more that you can do.
Put Forth the Extra Effort
If you can get the client to understand your rate and what you are delivering, you are well on your way to being a great consultant. However, we are talking about being a great consultant, not just a successful one. And for that, you need to do one more thing. That is, do something a little extra for your client.
Once you have the job underway and everything is almost complete, take the time to do a little something extra for your client.
You will want to make sure that the client isn’t charged for these additional efforts and that they know it. But by giving them a little extra, the client will better appreciate the value you add to your work.
Make it something simple, like being a day early for delivery or adding extra documentation for delivered source code.
Be sure to let the client know that this was above and beyond, and mention that you felt the client would need this to get the most out of your work. This attention to detail can keep a client coming back for more consulting.
I hope you find these tips helpful in your consultant work. You will want to make sure that you understand what a great consultant is, set the client expectations accordingly, and do a little extra for your valuable clients. By doing these things, you are on your way to being a great consultant.
When he is not writing on his wife’s blog or has his head buried in software code, Greg Chaffins can be found celebrating nerdy things on his own website, NerdBeach.