What It Takes to Be a Successful Consultant

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Someone with a consulting job provides professional advice or services. With expertise in a particular field, a consultant helps fix problems for other people. This article lists several qualities needed to be a successful consultant.

You don’t need to have successfully operated a business or been a CEO at a top company to be a successful consultant. Anyone with good persuasive and communication skills as well as experience in and knowledge about his or her chosen field can be a winning consultant.

Identify Your Area of Expertise

You may have worked in varied industries throughout your career and feel that you can fit into any consulting role. However, you should make an effort to choose the field that will pay you the best return on your time investment.

For example, if you have been an advertising professional and have knowledge of multimedia and design, you can be an advertising consultant. Similarly, if you are a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE), you can get a job as a consultant at an organization requiring this certification. If you have experience as an event coordinator, you can pursue a career as an event consultant. Identifying which area suits you best is highly important and will put you on the right track to a fulfilling consulting career.

Although consulting jobs are found in numerous industries, to be a successful consultant in any field, one needs to have the following skills and characteristics:

  • Ability to Be a Team Player: A consultant never works alone. Most established companies have teams of consultants dedicated to common goals. You will be required to work as part of a team in meetings and presentations, whether they’re held in-house or at a client’s office.

  • Ability to Sell Yourself: To be a successful consultant, you will need to sell yourself to potential and current clients. If you are an extrovert who relishes talking to people, explaining viewpoints, and persuading others to cooperate with you, and you have the ability to make unplanned presentations, you should be able to sell yourself as a consultant with ease.

  • Ability to Recognize Problems and Offer Solutions: The basic job of a consultant is to quickly recognize customer problems and offer the right solutions to fix them. This skill is the most essential in any type of consulting job.

  • Ability to Multitask: If you are good at multitasking, you will have a better chance of being successful in a consulting job. Often consulting assignments are hectic — even chaotic. Moreover, you may at times have several assignments which need to be done simultaneously. Good organizational skills and the ability to prioritize are essential.

  • Willingness to Work Long Hours: Working long hours is common for almost every consultant. A consultant’s job may demand working for 10 to 15 hours a day or even more. Meeting deadlines and satisfying customer expectations is very important for a successful career as a consultant.

  • Time-Management Skills: Merely working long hours may not be effective. A consultant should have time-management skills so that he or she can prioritize assignments and complete every task in a timely manner.

  • Comfort with Math: Usually consultants have to quickly calculate the costs of deliverables for clients. Being comfortable with numbers is important for anyone who wants to be successful in a consulting job.

  • Networking Skills: If you want to be a successful consultant, it is important that you have the ability to network and spread the word about your company and its services.

One should keep in mind that the consulting field is changing constantly. A long career in consulting may take you places. You can become a top manager or even a partner if you manage to stick around successfully for about six years in your consulting role.
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