Independent consultants make an important contribution to the modern business world on a daily basis. The range of consulting topics that are offered is wider than ever before.
But which requirements should one fulfil in order to successfully survive in the market as an independent consultant? Here is an overview of the most important factors that play a role:
The basic prerequisite for working as a consultant is a solid knowledge of the field in which you are working. This is the only way to be an external helper and guide for the customer. Solid specialist knowledge also means that you always keep your knowledge up to date and deal with current developments.
Ideally, however, you should also bring knowledge from other areas that are closely related to your own area of expertise. For example, if you work as an online marketing consultant, it is an advantage if you have also dealt with classic marketing or PR. It can’t hurt for a consultant in the human resources sector to have a basic knowledge of topics such as psychology or finance.
Good analytical thinking
External consultants are often used when there is a concrete problem to be solved in a company. A good analytical feel is therefore essential in order to ask all important questions, gather information and finally work out a working solution together with the customer.
Being a good listener
But just as important as analytical thinking is listening carefully, because often you will find out between the lines that the problem lies somewhere else. A good consultant is therefore always an active listener and also someone who asks the right questions to illuminate even the darkest corners.
Being good at explaining
As already mentioned, good consultants are very well versed in their field of expertise. However, the best knowledge will not be of much use to you as a consultant if you do not have the ability to explain a subject to your counterpart in simple words. If you fail to explain, you will most likely also fail to win the trust of the customer and ultimately to help.
A consultant with a lot of professional experience will always have an advantage over a beginner, because over time he or she will have developed a good professional and human feel. This gives him the advantage of being able to quickly assess a situation, ask the right questions and finally work out the right solutions with the client. The seniority also makes it easier to gain the trust of the customer during the acquisition process.
As a consultant you can never be an all-rounder and know-it-all. That is why a good network with other experts is a must. Only this way is it possible to provide outstanding interdisciplinary services.
A supportive network also has the additional advantage of helping each other with new business. If, for example, you do not offer a service, recommend someone from the network or include them in the consulting team. Sooner or later, these recommendations will also bring you new business as a consultant.
Be ready to go the extra mile
Today, most markets are highly competitive – even for consultants. In addition, the customers themselves are also under pressure and have to achieve their business goals. Therefore it is more important than ever to offer excellent services and to be prepared to go the extra mile for your customers. This is the only way for consultants to achieve long-term success, retain customers and get the important recommendations.
If you bring these skills with you, you will have a solid basis for a successful career as a consultant. And if you see that you’re not saddled with the one or other topic, it means working hard until you are.