There are millions of Freelance consultants in the U.S. and our numbers continue to climb on a steep upward slope, fueled both by the reluctance of employers to offer stable full-time, benefits-paying jobs and the desire of workers to have more flexible schedules, whether single and childless or married with children. There are different levels of Freelance consulting, from the one-off hourly paid short-term project to ongoing client relationships that may endure for several years.
Some Freelance consulting projects are very limited in scope: you are hired to design a brochure, build a website, facilitate a meeting, provide special event PR, or redecorate a living room. Other projects might start with a change management process that would benefit from the perspective and expertise of an external professional and segues into implementation and training for impacted staff.
It is useful to break down the components of the consulting function because it will encourage us, its practitioners, to think about the sum total of what we do— the value that each component brings will remind us that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.
Further, when we speak with clients or generate our content marketing information or traditional advertising copy, having the components of our work and good sound-bites at the ready will keep marketing messages and elevator pitches fresh and relevant and help us to communicate to clients that we understand their needs and priorities and we would make a good hire for their mission critical project. Below is a list of a consultant’s core duties.
- Provide information.
- Diagnose (and maybe redefine) the client’s problem.
- Provide recommendations for the short and long-term based on the diagnosis.
- Propose one or more effective solutions that will resolve the client’s problem.
- Assist with the implementation of the chosen solution to the problem.
- Suggest how the client can encourage and sustain internal support for the solution.
- Facilitate training or learning, to allow impacted staff to resolve similar problems in the future.
When we Freelance consultants are called in to discuss a possible assignment with a client, we may want to ask a few questions of the project team or leader, to allow us to gain insight and context; to help reveal one or more potentially useful solutions; and to make it more likely that the client will accept and approve your recommendations:
- What solutions have been implemented or proposed in the past and what was the outcome?
- Which untried steps toward a solution does the client have in mind?
- Which, if any, related aspects of the client’s business operation are not going well?
- When a reasonable solution is recommended, how and when will it be implemented?
- What steps can be taken to encourage buy-in for the solution, to assist its successful implementation?
Thanks for reading,