Consultant Credibility

After nearly 16 years of off and on consulting, the requirements for having fun and making a little money in the process revolves around one's credibility as a consultant.

Some of you who are new to consulting should understand that successful consultants know how to build trust very quickly. Though obviously not always successful, what helps me in this process is a trance like attention to the client. I try to see the fever behind their need and how they like to work.

This refocus on the client instead of myself really helps to bring down the sometimes destructive excess of energy and tension in the initial conversations.

Great consultants just seem to exude competence.

They do it in the way they express themselves and listen. But above all, competence is reflected by the easy manner in which such consultants readily admit that they do not have the answers to everything related to their field of expertise.

Clients still want competence. But they cannot stand feigned infallibility.

Such a demeanor from a consultant screams, "I really don't know what I am doing!"

Be confident in your skills, admit to what you don't yet know, and remain at ease. Clients know you don't know it all and want you to show your human side along with your expertise. What they want is your judgement based on a thorough review of their situation.

If all they need is knowledge, then they could do a web search to find it. Consultants take their encyclopedic experiences and apply them to the client's problem with judgement and objectivity.

These days I try to jump to the client's problem beginning with the first meeting if at all possible. Demonstrating capabilities using stories and tying them to the client's need informally works best during your initial conversations.

Don't get in the way of the client who really wants to move on to their problem. The client is usually ready for this more quickly than most consultants realize.

Remember. It's all about the client, not the consultant.

What tools do you use to build your competency in the eyes of your clients? And if you are a client, what advice could you give us so we can become more effective as consultants?

Posted on October 16, 2009 and filed under Consulting.