Tips to Succeed as an Engineering Consultant

Tips to Succeed as an Engineering Consultant

According to Stuart B. Brown if one wants to become a successful engineering consultant they must be bipolar. Stuart is the founder and managing principal of Veryst Engineering which is a consulting company located in Needham, MA and his definition is quite interesting. For him bipolar means that you need to be an expert in the field but at the same time be able and willing to do everything else.

Form his own experience he has learned that clients would usually hire the consultant for their expertise, but soon after they do, the consultant can notice that the client needs someone with completely different skills. This is why it is important for the consultant to be able to identify the clients’ problems and needs, understand their pain and be able to find the most suitable solution.

Clients expect the consultant to offer the perfect solution and to give them a time frame when the problem can be solved. Sometimes the consultant doesn’t even get a chance to use their expertise. By the time the consultant gets a chance to put the knowledge and skills in effect the client already wants a solution. Logically the consultant will focus on providing the solution, and once they succeed, the client has no interest in seeing what the consultant is capable of doing. The client came to get the work done, and that is all that matters.

Stuart is familiar with this practice from first hand. He was hired by a company that produces athletic shows to investigate why some of the components they were using for the shoes were failing. This was in Stuart’s field of expertise and it was something he knew how to handle. However, once he and the client met, the client reversed the project completely. All of the sudden he forgot about the real purpose of the meeting and the reason why he hired Stuart. They started working on something else and at the end the two creating a patent for a new product. The client submitted the invention, he and Stuart were recognized as inventors including the members of the staff that helped in the realization of the project.

Stuart had experience, knew how to cope with the situation, but the client needed something else. Instead of backing out, Stuart went along, helped as much as he could and was able to get the best out of the situation. And he did the right thing. He wasn’t insisting on the agreed terms, he wasn’t trying to show the client how good he is; he simply decided to play along. He gave the client what he wanted and that was a clear indicator that Stuart is good at what he does. There is no doubt that next time the client needs similar services, he will think about the person who has already helped him in the past.

What are the best practices?

There are several reasons why people decide to ask help form the consultants. First is that they don’t have enough time to come up with a solution. Second they might not have the right people to help them and third they lack expertise. If they find in you everything they need then they will keep coming back for you. For them it means reliable support, for you it means repetitive clients.

Brown has a pretty impressive resume:

  • Business and literary degree
  • S. in mechanical engineering (ME) from Washington University
  • S. in ME from Stanford University
  • D. in ME from MIT

He says that there are certain steps and practices that all engineering consultants must follow if they want to build a successful career.

Find something in which you will the best

People should know their objective from early on. They must have expectations about their future and be confident that they will be able to offer something that nobody else can. Maybe they will succeed, maybe they won’t.

If they do succeed and become the best in their work, think progressively and understand what people need, and above all be able to offer that, then they will create base of loyal clients that will keep coming back for more. The important thing to remember is that people learn all their life. However, when people are young it is easier for them to learn. The brain is more active and can absorb more things, the memory is good, and people can understand things faster.  Therefore the best thing you would be to invest in yourself as much as you can, while you are still young. You can learn even the things you believe you might never need. You never know what the future brings and it is always a good idea to be well prepared for any situation that might present itself.

Be opinionated, don’t be afraid to say what you mean and share your ideas. That is why these people are hiring you in the first place.

If you are not self-confident, slightly to the point of arrogant, people won’t be interested in what you have to say. Instead they will listen to someone who knows how to grasp their attention and has the power to convince them in the impossible. Clients don’t want people that use the word maybe a bit too often. They like people with strong attitude that know a good solution when they see it. They hire a consultant to give them answers, not to ask them what to do.

The clients are usually very good in recognizing when the consultant is bluffing. They can see when you don’t have all the information. They come to you for advice, if you are not able to give that to them, they will see it in your yeas. They will see themselves in you!  They need guidance, advice and final solution, and that is precisely what you need to give. You need to have your own opinion, to know how to support it, and convince them in your story so they would be willing to follow your advice. If you are able to do this, you have got yourself a new client. If you start the sentence with “Maybe you should … “ you have lost the game my friend.

One thing you should never underestimate is the power of marketing. Many people don’t succeed because they are good; they succeed because they are persistent. They never accept no for an answer and they will go on and on until the client agrees to what they are offering. Of course, harassing them is certainly not a solution, but calling them more than once might do the trick. This is not something that everyone is born with, but it can be easily learned.

The best thing about consulting is that you can always explore your options. You can see what works best for you and then you can go for it. In addition, you will have the opportunity to analyze the clients and see the kind of people you would be interested in working with.

One thing you have to remember is that the best marketing is your client. If they are happy and satisfied with the services you offer the word will spread out. People will hear how good you are and that will attract new clients; and not just new, but also repeating clients. If you get it right the first time, there is no reason for them to look for another consultant.

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