As a noted educator and writer once said, wisdom is knowing what to do next, skill is knowing how to do it, and virtue is doing it.
The successful independent consultant, must have all three requirements, but knowing how to do it is essential. Knowing how to get your message out to your potential clients using press releases, direct mail, e-mail, print advertising, web sites, blogs, word of mouth and other appropriate actions are important. Also important is knowing how to engage the potential client, gain the client’s acceptance of you as an expert who can deliver, and then gain the client’s willingness to use your services to solve his problems.
To do this you have to be able to actively listen–to receive, interpret, and respond to verbal messages and other cues; to actively learn–to acquire, evaluate, organize, and process information using the computer and other resources; to apply technology to tasks — to understand proper procedures for the operation of the equipment; to use critical thinking — to look for the rule or principle underlying the relationship between two or more objects and use it to solve problems; and, to actively use record keeping skills — to predict and manage cash flow, keep control of your costs, set fees that are reasonable and competitive, keep records of receipts and outgoings; and to manage your time and the time of others.
Moreover, other skills that a successful independent consultant must have include the ability to negotiate — to work towards agreements, involve exchange of resources, resolve divergent interests and essentially to bring others together in an effort to resolve differences. In addition the independent consultant must be able to teach others new skills, communicate ideas to justify positions, persuade and convince others to change their minds and behaviors, responsibly challenge existing procedures, understand how social and organizational systems work, and work to satisfy client expectations.
The exercise of all the above skills presume that the independent consultant possess strong reading, writing, and speaking skills. You must be able to locate, understand, and interpret written information in work-related documents, communicate thoughts, ideas, and messages in writing, including creating letters, manuals, reports, directions and flow charts, and, organize ideas and verbally convey information effectively.
All of these skills are learnable and does not depend on any particular education or experience. However, it does require knowing how to use efficient learning techniques to apply new knowledge and skill technologies. Knowing how to learn is life’s most important skill.