Advice for Aspiring Project Management Consultants

ProjectManager.com

What does it mean to be a project management consultant? Jennifer Bridges, PMP, explains and shows you how to become one in this short tutorial video.

Here’s a screenshot of the whiteboard for your reference!

what it takes to become a project management consultant

In Review – So, You Want to Be a Project Management Consultant?

What is a consultant? Jennifer addressed this question first, explaining that a consultant is simply someone who is experienced in a field and provides their expert advice in a professional context.

She continued to define the two types of consultants. The first type of consultant is employed by the corporation and works either exclusively for, or in part, to offer consultancy. Then there are those who are external contractors. These are people who work for an independent firm, even their own firm, but are hired on a contract basis to provide their consultant services.

What Knowledge and Skills Do Consultants Need?

To become a consultant requires a deep relationship with your field of choice. Your worth is measured in an ability to provide that experience and steer a corporate ship through the rough waters of business.

Jennifer broke down the knowledge and skills a consultant needs into the following list:

  • Business: Naturally, an understanding of business and how it works is crucial. You must have a clear understanding of the service that you’re offering.
  • Operations: This includes the basic operations of your business, such as how it’s structured and run, and what management tools you use to maintain those daily operations.
  • Accounting: Part of business operations involves accounting and a keen sense of how the money is distributed, including bookkeeping, how to invoice clients and get payments.
  • Legal: You must understand the legal agreements of your business and how to make a statement of work.
  • Marketing: Generating leads and gaining visibility for yourself in the marketplace is also a critical skill.
  • Sales: Know how to create solid proposals and close sales.
  • Compliance: What are the governmental rules and regulations that impact your industry? This is another area of expertise in which you’re expected to have full knowledge.

How to Be a Consultant

That’s a lot to expect of one person, but it’s not an impossible standard to hold yourself to. That said, Jennifer noted that even with this knowledge and these skills at hand, you must follow a code to maintain a professional and productive career in consultancy.

She recommended the following:

  • Setup systems and processes to structure your work.
  • Get organized, as there will likely be many complexities to your work, and organization is the best way to rein them in.
  • Be professional. It’s the only way to deal dispassionately and gain the respect of the many different personalities you’ll encounter.
  • Deliver results, which might be the most important of all; for without it, you’re not doing your job.
  • Keep your word, because if you’re not trusted, the relationships you build will quickly erode.
  • Be prompt, because it’s respectful to not keep people waiting.
  • Be clear, concise and specific when you deliver your message to get it across without misunderstandings.
  • Know when to say no, which is not easy, but that’s your job to know when something is not feasible or must stop.
  • Be able to measure and track success, or else you cannot show that your efforts are bearing fruit.
  • Get current with software tools that can help you do things like monitor and measure the progress of your initiatives.
  • Hire a coach and/or a mentor who has a proven record of success in your field to help you set up, so you can start things out right.

How to Get Hired as a Project Management Consultant

Jennifer ended by offering some practical advice for getting a “gig” as a project management consultant. To begin with, you need to get yourself out into the field and become noticed. That means going to conferences, writing articles for trade publications and posting to respected blogs. This will give you visibility and establish your credibility.

Next, you’ll want to decide on your hourly rate. That means you need to know what the market is paying for similar services in your field and geographic area. Once you have a price for your work, reach out to the last three companies where you worked and see if there’s a need for your services.

Don’t give up a contract for work, no matter how small or short-term it might be. These bridge jobs often lead to bigger and better things, but they also offer more experience and can expand your sphere of influence.

If you do get a nibble, but the job is below the price you first quoted, be willing to be flexible. You must be realistic. There’s a chance your estimation of the market rate is wrong. But working is always better than not working, unless you’re being terribly exploited.

This is how you build and nurture business relationships. Create networks and diversify your clientele to make sure that you’re in demand. Then you can choose the work that interests and excites you rather than having to take whatever comes your way.

Pro-Tip: As Jennifer noted, because of the many arms attached to the project management consultant, to do the job efficiently and productively you’ll want to invest in the right tools. Using an online project management software will give you the needed features to monitor and track your progress.

Transcription:

Today, we’re talking about how to become a project management consultant. So I wanna first start with clarifying what a consultant is. It’s a person who provides expert advice professionally.

Well, consultants can be within a corporation. They can be a corporate employee, or they can be an external contractor. And if they’re an external contractor, they can work for someone else’s firm or your own firm.

So it’s very important to have knowledge and skills in business, really understanding and having clarity on your service offering.

Also, having an understanding and knowing how to run business operations, the running of the company.

Also, have an understanding of accounting, bookkeeping, how to invoice your clients and get payments, understanding the legal, the agreements and how to set up a statement of work.

Even understanding the marketing, how to generate leads and get visibility for yourself.

Also, the sales, is really closing sales and doing any kinda proposals.

And also, understanding compliance or government rules and regulations for your industry or what you do.

So here are a few how-tos.

So, first of all, you need to set up your systems and processes for the type of work you do.

You need to be organized in when you go see a client, or deliver your work, also be professional.

Deliver results, do what you say you’re gonna do, and keep your word.

Also, be prompt. If you had meetings, then show up before the meeting and be sure if you are conducting the meetings, that you start them and end them on time.

You also wanna be clear, concise and specific in your communications and what you are agreeing to deliver.

You also want to know when to say no. There’re going to be some projects or some opportunities that aren’t the right fit or maybe you don’t have the skill sets for, so sometimes, we just have to say no.

You also need to be able to measure and track success. How do you know what you’re delivering for your client is on target?

Also, you wanna be current with any kinda tools. It’s really important to be efficient and effective in your work, so, knowing tools and how to get online and be able to work on the go.

I recommend hiring a coach or a mentor who has been successful in what you wanna do. They can help you get started quicker and help you start out right.

So, we also wanna look at how to get what we call gigs. What that means is how to get the work for your consulting.

First of all, one idea to get visibility is to present at conferences. Write articles or blogs to get visibility, and establish your credibility. Let people know who you are and some ideas and perspectives that you have.

Number two, determine the hourly rate for your market, then contact the last three companies that you worked for. More than likely, they’re gonna hire you. Not always, it’s not a guarantee, but it’s highly probable for people who do consulting.

Number three, take short-term gigs if you’re looking for something longer. That way, you’re not waiting and you can go ahead and get in the groove of how to work and get your methodology and your processes in place. They also can provide testimonials, references for your work.

Be realistic with your hourly rate. I’ve seen where sometimes people either undercharge for their services, and as a consultant, if you’re contracting out of your own firm, you have to cover all kinds of costs. So you wanna be able to charge enough to cover those costs. I’ve also seen where people are not realistic, where they charge too much for their service without having the experience or expertise, and both of those are not good situations. So if you charge too much, you’re probably going to be denied opportunities.

So number five, I think it’s really important, is to begin to build and nurture strategic business relationships, who will help you get referrals and ongoing work. So, as you can see, this can be a project in setting up yourself as a consultant.

And if you need a tool to help you set up and get started as a project management consultant, then sign up for our software now at ProjectManager.com.

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