Skill Sets of the Professional Consultant

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Skill Sets of the Professional Consultant

Consulting is a very demanding profession. Consulting can also be a very rewarding profession. To be successful, professional consultants need a wide range of skill sets.

Business Skills

Consultants need to have a thorough grounding and a broad understanding of the industry or government sector in which they will be working. In addition, they need to be exceptionally proficient in all aspects of the business discipline they are supporting. For example, they may need to have in-depth knowledge and experience in sales, finance, manufacturing, customer service, management, or information technology. Then, they need to focus these skills onto the specifics of a particular client.

Personal Skills

Personal skills ensure that the consultant works well both independently and with others. Personal skills enable the professional consultant to be both efficient and effective in carrying out his activities and achieving his own objectives and the objectives of the organization that he is supporting. Personal skills include attributes like integrity and practices like effective time management. The professional consultant must be able to balance personality traits like forcefulness, drive, and ambition with other traits like empathy, etiquette, and courtesy.

Interpersonal Skills

Professional consultants need to be excellent communicators. They need to be able to express themselves clearly and concisely: orally, in writing, and through body language. They also need to be masters of the skill of active listening. They have to be able to listen for meaning, with both their ears and with their eyes. Professional consultants need to be able to identify the audience for their communication and adapt the content of the message and the tone of the message to fit.

Consulting Skills

Professional consultants need to be able to specify the type and level of consulting required for a particular engagement. They need to be able to tailor the normal phases of a consulting engagement to a specific situation. They have to be able to determine and use the appropriate tools and resources to advance from one phase of a consulting engagement to another.

Consultants have to be able to judge when to abandon a consulting engagement because it is hopeless and when to move a consulting engagement forward into follow-up business. They need to be able to develop a satisfactory, legal consulting contract and they need to be able to price their work competitively and profitably.

In summary, professional consultants require business skills, personal skills, interpersonal skills, and consulting skills to succeed. Fortunately, all of these skills can be mastered through study and experience. If you are considering a career in consulting, assess your skill set and develop areas of weakness in order to ensure future success.

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