First and foremost, you need to be adding value. There is no point in telling your clients what they already know. They hired you to help them solve their problem, not reiterate the obvious.
Secondly, knowledge is not everything. While it is important that you are knowledgeable, as a consultant you need to know how to apply that knowledge to solve problems. This means that you need to know your clients' businesses. You want to make sure that you are addressing the root problem and are not a superficial agent.
Next, you should also keep in the forefront of your mind that if you don't deliver or can't deliver, you better pack up and go home. Don't waste your time or your clients' trying to handle something that you are not capable of handling. This is bad for business, your business; you will be seen as incompetent, and once that gets around, you will find it very difficult to get a job.
Communication is vital for a consultant. Everyone can talk, but not everyone can communicate effectively to resolve issues. Communication is a two-way street. It involves active listening as well as having the ability to convey your thoughts, feelings, ideas, plans, and reasoning effectively. Make sure that you are keeping your clients updated on all findings and results.
Be a people person. If you are incapable of relating to people, we highly recommend taking a few charm classes somewhere. You can be the most brilliant consultant in the world, with mountains of knowledge, boat loads of skills, and training that would make a mortal cry, but if you can't relate to people-connect with them-you are not going to be able to deliver, and you are not going to be successful.
There is no ''I'' in team. It is wonderful that you can walk into a business and tell them what is wrong and lay out a plan that will permanently get rid of that problem. But if you haven't taken the time to work with the staff, including workers and executives, then you are failing your client. You must collaborate with the people that are in the business on a daily basis so that your plan is effective and works after your job is done.
It is very important that consultants have a certain amount of integrity. Without it you completely undermine everything that you stand for. Make sure that at all times you are acting in a professional and ethical manner. It is imperative that you act with responsibility and that any conversations you have with your clients or their employees are always open and honest.
Finally, successful consultants know that it isn't enough to provide a plan. They need to show their clients how to implement that plan. Remember, if they knew what to do on their own, your services would never have been needed. Put together all the pieces and present them in a comprehensive, easily understandable package. Your job is done when they understand what you are doing, why you are doing it, and how they can maintain it after you are gone.