To build effective consulting relationships, consultants must understand their own value and how it supports their client’s goals. What are the experiences, insights, and skills you have that will help your client succeed? If you’re working with an established client, continuing to add value helps retain and potentially expand the relationship. With a new client, stating your value gets the relationship started on the right foot and establishes credibility. And if you’re prospecting, describing your value can help you land a new customer. That’s why, as a consultant, you need to consider your strengths. What do you bring to the client relationship?
It’s a simple question, but it’s not always easy to answer. It takes some self-reflection. And because you are (hopefully) growing as a professional, the answer can keep changing. What are you “good at”? What knowledge and skills have you accumulated? What do you need to learn?
Think about your strongest consulting assets (skills, abilities, and insights) and which are beneficial to your clients. For example, you might have problem-solving skills that help you solve difficult problems for your clients. How did you approach those problems, and what worked? If you’re technical, you might have used your abilities to develop software that helped a client launch a new product. How did you leverage technology for the best solution? Or perhaps your insights contributed to a successful marketing campaign. How did you recognize what was needed?
To get a complete picture, don’t be afraid to ask others for their input as well. Current clients or colleagues may identify strengths you haven’t considered.
Finding opportunities to share your skills, abilities, and insights with clients (or potential clients) doesn’t have to be awkward or feel like bragging. Remember that a client is working with you because of your expertise and what you bring to the table. They expect you to know how to do something they can’t do themselves. There are easy, natural ways to talk about the value you bring.
To help your clients understand that value, look for opportunities to communicate it. Here are five ways:
- Describe more about your background during informal “getting to know you” conversations, as you also learn about the client
- When a topic arises, ask: “Would you like to hear about how other people I worked with dealt with this problem?”
- Describe problems you have enjoyed solving in the past so the client understands that you’re both able and eager to provide support
- Ask questions about a situation or concern that demonstrate your understanding
- Show a willingness to learn and grow
It’s not necessary to inform your client of everything you have to offer from the start; there’s no need to recite a list of your accomplishments (unless you’re asked). But you should watch for chances to help your client become more aware of your value as a consultant.
As you work with clients, they will learn more about your current capabilities and that will further establish your value. But you should always demonstrate your willingness to learn and grow, even if you are an experienced consultant and have been consulting for a long time. After all, learning on the job is an essential part of being a consultant, no matter your level of expertise.