CIO.com recently published an article that discusses the fundamentals of IT consultant success, in which multiple IT consulting leaders were interviewed, including AIM VP of Consulting Services Kevin Rooney. Many companies are in need of technology experts, but there’s a significant shortage of talent in critical areas like cloud, information security, data and analytics, AI/machine learning, and more. This has contributed to a rise in independent consultants and consulting companies who oftentimes have a good deal of experience with a variety of companies and industries. But what does it take to become successful as a consultant? This article highlights seven key factors:
Develop good interview skills
“Your resume may get you in the door of a prospective client, but your interview is where you make a lasting impression and land the opportunity,” says Todd Weneck, vice president of search at Modis, a provider of IT staffing services.
Learn how to review client contracts
“If you are taking the independent contractor route, this is especially important, as you will be expected to comply with the ‘flow-downs’ of the company you are consulting with or the consulting company with which you are subcontracting,” says Steve Perkins, U.S. and global managing director of the technology industry practice at professional services firm Grant Thornton.
Consider focusing on one or a handful of industries
Don’t understate the value of the insights you gained working in their industry, Perkins says. “They are what will differentiate you in the early days of your consulting career,” he says. “Others will know the methods, tools and craft skills of consulting, but few will have the depth of industry-specific insight you bring to the table. Trade on this.”
Acquire relevant credentials and affiliations
“These are table stakes in the consulting business,” Perkins says. “They range from the more general, such as certification in project management, to the specific, such as certification in a specific vendor product. These credentials enable clients, recruiters and consulting management to quickly appreciate your capabilities.”
Develop communication and collaboration skills
“One of your primary goals as a consultant is to secure long-term and repeat opportunities,” Weneck says. “When management is considering which consultant is the right fit for the job, it often comes down to how well they integrate with the existing team.”
Nurture relationships and get good references
As part of networking, “consultants should pull from past experiences, research, industry relationships, colleagues, partners, and what they learn within an organization,” says Kevin Rooney, vice president at AIM Consulting, a firm that specializes in IT consulting.
Learn to be a salesman and business developer
“The smaller your business — and especially if you are on your own — the harder this will be,” Perkins says. “And when you are selling, you are not making money, and when you are delivering, no one is bringing in the next project. You will certainly move into consulting with a client or two and a project or two already in hand, but quickly will come the need to replace these.”