The Future of Consulting: PART ONE

Posted on by Brandon Klein

The consultant of the future will have to possess characteristics not considered standard in today’s… PowerPoint, hide behind email and corporate hierarchies.

1) Flexible to a fault 
2) Listening between the lines 
3) Swiss Army style tech and social expert BUT specialized expertise 
4) Personal branding 
    o Online tracking like your phone 
5-10 will be covered next week… 
5) Pretend PowerPoint 
6) Fun is paramount  
7) Data visualization 
8) Quirk, uniqueness, excel point OR detail master 
9) Long term goal-oriented 

1) All workers, whether employed by a company fulltime, or those who work on a consulting basis, must remain flexible to a fault. Bussing dishes or defining a new direction for the company… there is no difference in importance of work. You are removing distractions and creating new space to move everyone forward. The more you are involved at every level, the better understanding your connections are and the more successful you are likely to be. There is nothing wrong with delegation, but if you have to clean the toilets, do it with a smile and you will own a lot more than that toilet before you know it. For more on this, read about Servant Leadership 

2) Of course, a consultant needs to build relationships with clients.  Just as a doctor might build a relationship of trust with his or her patients by listening to the patient’s complaints, and carefully “listening between the lines” for anything that is not apparent, an independent contractor should do the same.  Each client, whether face-to-face or remote, has needs that cannot always be expressed.  Sometimes, an important interpersonal skill for a businessperson to have is one of good listening and empathy for the client.  On some days, one may sit down to a phone call to hear an unusual tone of voice.  Or, when the consultant has a meeting over Skype, he or she might notice particular differences in their client’s expression and manner.  It is no different than sitting down to dinner or lunch with clients or an employer. The good businessperson must pick up the tone of the interaction to determine the best outcome for the client.  The medium of the Internet does not take away human interaction.  Some people say that it does.  While remote communication is not quite the same as face-to-face interaction, there always remain subtleties between people, no matter how close or far away.
In the past, letters with postage stamps were so significant to both business and personal relationships that entire relationships, and even pieces of history, were based upon correspondence.  People may scoff at electronic collaboration.  However, in past times, remote communication proved vital.  For example, Emily Dickinson corresponded for years with a man who would later help her to gain exposure.  She considered the handwritten letters so important to expression and communication that she wrote to the man for years about her work.  Finally, the man visited Dickinson’s house, to meet her in person.  He was stunned at the woman he met, but without the depth of their correspondence, her work may not have been recognized as it should have.  Her family finally brought her work to the fore, but this correspondence basically served as business communication with a man who practically became her editor, and liaison to the world. 

3) An independent contractor/consultant needs in-depth skill and knowledge of the particular area in which he or she works.   In fact, that specialization should be of such rapt interest to the worker that he or she always seeks new and innovative ways to complete a work assignment.  For instance, a freelance writer needs superior writing skill and should always polish and perfect the art of writing.  That way, whenever an assignment reaches the writer’s door, the freelance consultant can complete the work at his or her full capacity.  
Computer literacy proves crucial to the modern contractor’s success.  In a working world where people literally touch each other from across the globe, thorough knowledge of technology is essential.  Without this, the consultant of the future cannot stay afloat.  From conducting meetings via webcam, to understanding Search Engine Optimization, the contractor must understand that technology is not an abstract concept; it remains just as essential as the obnoxious, clunky typewriter or clanging cash register did to business in the Fifties, Sixties, and Seventies. Unless a job requires pure person-to-person contact, such as in-depth social work, or the practice of medicine, most large-scale businesses thrive on technology.  The Internet is the lifeblood to any business, whether local or global. For social business insight, see Chris Brogan and the Dachis Group

4) Online branding…
We learn more about being ourselves online as HBR proves: 

1. When you commit to being your real self online, you discover parts of yourself you never dared to share offline.
2. When you visualize the real person you're about to e-mail or tweet, you bring human qualities of attention and empathy to your online communications. 
3. When you take the idea of online presence literally, you can experience your online disembodiment as a journey into your mind rather than out of your body.
4. When you treat your Facebook connections as real friends instead of "friends", you stop worrying about how many you have and focus on how well you treat them.
5. When you take your Flickr photos, YouTube videos and blog posts seriously as real art, you reclaim creative expression as your birthright.
6. When you focus on creating real meaning with your time online, your online footprint makes a deeper impression.
7. When you treat your online attention as a real resource, you invest your attention in the sites that reflect your values, helping those sites grow.
8. When you spend your online time on what really matters to you, you experience your time online as an authentic reflection of your values.
9. When you embrace online conversations as real, you imbue them with the power to change how you and others think and feel.
10. When you talk honestly about the real joys and frustrations of the Internet, you can stop apologizing for your life online.

Modern day consultants are already considering a variety of personal branding tools online.
All of these are in use at the authors site:
Tools used:
…and more


Part II coming your way next week.