You can be on Entrepreneur’s cover!

5 Behaviors of a Successful and Trustworthy Consultant For a successful business relationship to get off the ground and thrive, both sides need to trust and respect each other.

By Mel Carson

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

When Stephen M.R. Covey wrote, "Trust is equal parts character and competence," he meant that leaders could end up with less than optimal results if they lacked one or both of those parts.

Sustaining trust is hugely important in business relationships, especially when leaders turn to consultants for help in navigating tricky waters or avoiding failure.

So whether you're a seasoned consultant, someone just starting out or a manager wondering how to hire outside expertise, here are five behaviors that successful consultants demonstrate when embarking on a trusted and fruitful consulting engagement.

Related: 5 Ways to Have More Meaningful Exchanges

1. Listen first.

If someone is asking for advice, he or she has a business problem to solve. Your first strategy to instill confidence that you can tackle the job should be to listen and pay close attention.

Be sure to do some homework about the business and the person involved so when the company representative speaks, it's not all brand-new info. Have questions prepared and really focus on the responses supplied so as tp assimilate them and be prepared to provide a thorough and crisp proposal for helping to resolve the issue.

2. Know your value.

Some potential clients might try to squeeze you on the initial assignment, claiming this first project can lead to more fruitful gigs down the line. While it might be appropriate in some cases to take on the assignment regardless, generally you'll feel better about yourself over the long run if you stick to your guns and don't allow yourself to lower your price.

If you know your niche and feel your charges are appropriate, have the integrity to politely turn down a counter offer. Or simply reduce the scope of your work to maintain the level of profitability you've set for yourself.

Related: Skip the Reluctant Customers. Start Resonating With the Right Crowd.

3. It's OK to say no.

Saying yes to anything and everything is the default response of many consultants and small business owners. This is understandable as many have that niggling worry that work might dry up or that it's important to say yes to please clients and appear positive and willing.

I would argue for saying no to "scope creep," when additional deliverables are added to a project but the fee remains the same. Turning down a request for performing a service that's outside your professional capabilities will earn you respect. If you're doing a great job and clients know where they stand, they'll feel your solid and honest approach is more trustworthy and professional.

4. Offer creative solutions.

Say a consulting firm (such as mine) offers services to help businesses with their social media strategy, digital PR and personal branding but receives random requests for SEO advice or help in setting up and managing a Facebook page.

Instead of just dismissing such inquiries, embrace the person's business problem and offer a partial solution based on how your consulting firm can help. Still have a conversation and offer some services; they might not be a complete answer but can work as part of a more sophisticated and integrated approach.

5. Exude true confidence.

Clients don't expect you to know everything. Don't be the type of person who exudes an overbearing, blustering, too-good-to-be-true sense of self. To gain trust and build an effective working relationship with a client, the customer must have a certain level of confidence in what you're doing.

Exude a level of self-assurance that's punctuated with authenticity. You'll earn more trust and kudos if you're honest about your limits and don't end up overpromising and under delivering.

What behaviors have you seen that help create successful consulting rapport?

Related: 5 Thoughts That Crush Success

Mel Carson

Founder and Principal Strategist at Delightful Communications

Mel Carson is founder of Delightful Communications, a Seattle-based social-media-strategy, digital-PR and personal-branding consulting firm. He is co-author of Pioneers of Digital and speaks about digital marketing and communications at conferences globally. He spent seven years at Microsoft as its digital-marketing evangelist.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Editor's Pick

Side Hustle

He Took His Side Hustle Full-Time After Being Laid Off From Meta in 2023 — Now He Earns About $200,000 a Year: 'Sweet, Sweet Irony'

When Scott Goodfriend moved from Los Angeles to New York City, he became "obsessed" with the city's culinary offerings — and saw a business opportunity.

Marketing

I Got Over 225,000 Views in Just 3 Months With Short-Form Video — Here's Why It's the New Era of Marketing

Thanks to our new short-form video content strategy, we've amassed over 225,000 video views in just three months. Learn how to increase brand awareness through short-form video content.

Branding

94% of Customers Say a Bad Review Made Them Avoid Buying From a Brand. Try These 4 Techniques to Protect Your Brand Reputation.

Maintaining a good reputation is key for any business today. With so many people's lives and shopping happening online, what is said about a company on the internet can greatly influence its success.

Personal Finance

How to Get a Lifetime of Investing Experience in Only One Year

Plus, how day traders can learn a lesson from pilots.

Productivity

6 Habits That Help Successful People Maximize Their Time

There aren't enough hours in the day, but these tips will make them feel slightly more productive.

Growing a Business

Looking to Achieve Your Goals But Don't Know Where to Start? Try These Proven Goal-Setting Strategies.

Find a more effective way of creating – and achieving – your goals. Get clear on your vision, make your plan, take action, reassess and then revise.