IC TIG Week: Matt Feldmann on Soft Skills for Independent Consultants

Hello, I am Matt Feldmann, the principal researcher and owner of Goshen Education Consulting, Inc. and the chair-elect for the Independent Consulting TIG. My company focuses on educational evaluation and data support for clients in Southern Illinois. As an independent consultant, it is imperative to maintain a strong network of clients, colleagues, and advocates with whom you can grow and develop your business. The following are some of the “Soft skills” associated with working with clients that are frequently referenced in business literature.

Lessons Learned:

Form a business strategy and stick to it. Marriage of Skill, Enjoyment, and Resources. Jim Collins refers to this as the “flywheel concept” in his book, “Good to Great”. After you have developed a well-considered business plan there is an additive effect to unyielding discipline to that plan. Learn more about the flywheel concept from Jim Collins here.

Recognize you are in a service industry and focus on your client relationships. Harry Beckwith refocuses attention on the service industry in Selling the Invisible. The key point is that evaluation is not a commodity. From our client’s perspectives, our expertise with complicated evaluation approaches is secondary to our ability to communicate and relate the importance of our work. Jeffrey Gitomer says that you are more likely to receive your next consulting contract from an existing client in his book Little Red Book on Selling.

Practice networking Karma. Recognize that your success is connected to the success of your network of clients, colleagues, and advocates. Your selfless work for others will return to you in unexpected ways. Keith Farazzi says you should not keep score with your networking relationships in his book Never Eat Alone; business development is not a zero sum game. Because we evaluation continues to be in a growth mode, evaluators should reach out to their competitors to learn from one another and to seek ways to develop cooperatively.

Rad Resources:

The following are the author websites for the four books referenced above and that provide excellent understanding for these and several more “soft skills.” You can probably find these on audio CD, mp3, or download from your library and listen to them as you travel among your clients.

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating IC TIG Week with our colleagues in the Independent Consulting Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our IC TIG members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

1 thought on “IC TIG Week: Matt Feldmann on Soft Skills for Independent Consultants”

  1. Great post! I love all the resources you mention. I’d add another … Chip and Dan Heath’s Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die. It’s about getting your message across. Changed the way I think about my reports.

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