As we approach the New Year, here are a few areas of education and professional development that you can focus on to improve your consulting:
Practice Case Studies
While learning from experience is important and valuable, it is hard when you are counting on your experience to bring you money. Entering into a client-consultant relationship without prior experience and practice in the area where you will be helping your client, may not end well for you – or them – leaving you in a position where you are offering work that doesn’t stand up to client expectations and standards. To compensate for this and prevent it from happening, you need to practice case studies and look into how you would solve hypothetical problems, like what your client might present. Address this by looking online for case studies to work on, collaborate with the fellow members of The Bench community, or take a few courses in analytical thinking, problem-solving tactics and how to improve your ability to read and extract information.
Read, Read, Read
It may sound too simple, but the truth is that there is a lot of knowledge to be gained from reading books, peer-reviewed articles, and guides within your consulting niche. Good consultants have a broad range of knowledge, sound insight, and background knowledge to pull on when they need it. All of these things can be found in books, and the more you can read and take advantage of them, the more knowledge, insight, and expertise you will gain. Doing this will lead to you being a sought-after authority in your niche and that brings more clients and more success for your business or for the company you work for.
Get Outside Your Comfort Zone
We all have that area within our job that we know we aren’t as good at, or that is more challenging for us. It is likely a little outside your comfort zone, and as a result, you avoid it. But if you avoid the thing you aren’t that good at, you will never get better. Pick something outside of your comfort zone and commit to getting comfortable with it. For example, perhaps it is analytical skills that you aren’t good at. Take a course on analytics and then use some case studies to practice what you have learned. Perhaps you aren’t good at networking and reaching out to people. Join a community such as Bench, which can act as a platform to facilitate your networking efforts. For each thing that you were uncomfortable with and you then improve upon, you will become more comfortable and confident. And each time it will get easier until pretty soon you want to be outside your zone instead of in!
Learning, growing and educating yourself in your field is an ongoing process and you should put yourself in the mindset for lifelong learning. Make this lifelong commitment through joining Bench where you will have a community of people, just like you, who are committed to the same thing.