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How to be a good consultant: everything you need to know

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Updated on:
December 12, 2022
December 12, 2022
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Being a consultant can be a very rewarding career. It can also be challenging, and it definitely takes hard work and dedication to be successful. So what makes someone a good consultant? There are many skills and traits that are necessary for success in this industry.

We will discuss what makes someone successful as a consultant and outline the most important skill that consultants need to possess. So if you are thinking about becoming a consultant or already working in a consulting firm and would like to improve your skills, read on!

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What skills does a successful consultant need?

Many skills are necessary for success as a consultant. Here are some of the most important ones:


Successful consultant needs to be confident in their abilities. After all, they're the expert that clients are paying for!

Having confidence in oneself means having faith in one's abilities, values, and judgment. A confident person is able to project their knowledge and expertise in a way that instills trust and faith in others.

In short, if you want to be a successful consultant, you need to have the ability to sell yourself and your skills as an independent professional convincingly. Read our full guide on how to get consulting clients.


Being trustworthy is another essential quality for consultants to improve consultant client relationship. After all, clients are trusting you with their business!

They need to know that you will keep their information confidential and that you will always have their best interests at heart. Trustworthiness also means being reliable and dependable.

Clients need to know they can count on you to deliver your promises. Successful consultants always follow through on their commitments and meet deadlines as agreed. They also keep their word, even when it's not convenient.

Demonstrable depth of subject matter expertise

A successful consultant needs to understand their area of expertise deeply. They need to be able to answer tough questions and provide sound advice. But simply having knowledge is not enough.

A good consultant also needs to be able to communicate their knowledge to others effectively. This means being able to explain things in a way that is easy for others to understand.

It also means being able to listen to clients and understand their needs. Only then can a consultant provide tailored and specific advice that is truly helpful. And that's what makes experienced consultants.

Organization and time management

Being organized, detail oriented, and managing one's time effectively is also important in the consulting job. After all, you're usually working on multiple projects at the same time!

This means that you need to be able to juggle many different tasks and priorities. Therefore, good time management skills are essential for keeping everything organized and on track.

Also, good organizational skills will help keep your client's information organized and easily accessible. And this is one key area that consulting firms often struggle with.

Good management practice is critical for the success of any business, but it is especially important for consultants. The best way to manage your time is to use a tracker. Read our review of the best time tracker for consultants.

A good listener

As we mentioned before, to be a great consultant, you should be a good listener. This is because, in order to be effective, consultants need to be able to understand the needs of their clients.

And the only way to do that is by listening to them carefully. Good listeners are able to pick up on nonverbal cues, such as body language and tone of voice.

They are also good at reading between the lines and understanding what someone is really saying.

Lastly, good listeners are patient and empathetic. They make an effort to understand where someone is coming from and why they are saying what they are saying.

Hence, if you want to be a successful consultant, make sure to brush up on your listening skills!

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Intuitive communicator

Verbal and written communication is key for consultants. After all, they need to be able to communicate their ideas and recommendations to clients effectively both.

While being a good communicator is nice, you need something more. A successful consultant also needs to be an intuitive communicator.

This means understanding what someone is trying to say without having to say it explicitly. It also means being able to adjust your communication style to fit the needs of your audience.

Intuitive communicators are able to build rapport quickly and establish trust with others.

Emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence is one of the soft skills good consultants should poses. This is because consultants need to be able to deal with people from all walks of life.

They need to be able to understand and empathize with their clients. Emotional intelligence also means being aware of your own emotions and how they might affect your work.

Successful consultants are able to keep their cool under pressure and maintain a positive attitude even in difficult situations.

Team player

Successful management consultants also need to be team players. This is because most consulting projects are team-based. Consultants need to be able to work well with company's internal teams and collaborate effectively.

They also need to be able to take direction from clients and senior members of the team. A good team player is someone who is flexible and adaptable. They are also good at offering guidance and resolving disputes.

Critical and analytical thinking

Last but not least, consultants need to be able to think critically and analytically. This means seeing the big picture and identifying the key issues at hand.

It also means good data gathering and analysis skills. Successful consultants are able to take a step back and look at the situation objectively.

They are also able to break down complex problems into smaller, more manageable pieces. Many consultants also use data visualization tools to help them see the big picture more clearly.

These are key skills you need to develop to remain competitive in consulting work.

What is the most important skill for a consultant?

So, what is the most important skill for a consultant? That’s tough to say. Each of the skills we’ve discussed is essential in its own way. But if we had to choose just one, we would say critical and analytical thinking.

This is because critical and analytical skills is the foundation of all the other skills a consultant needs. It enables consultants to see the world differently and come up with creative solutions to problems.

Without it, consultants would be unable to understand and solve complex problems. And without that, they would not be able to add value to their potential clients.

If you’re interested in becoming a consultant, make sure you develop your critical and analytical thinking skills. And if you’re already a consultant, continue to work on honing these skills. They will be the key to your success stories.

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