"So, what do you do?" Maybe you have had someone ask you that question. You're a consultant, after all. Don't they know that? :)
You have a wide range of experiences that can add to a wide range of situations. Sometimes, defining one specific job description or area of expertise can be difficult (sorry, Marketers). And...although it may be fairly easy for you to evaluate, "bottom-line," and quantify your client's areas of expertise and growth, it can be really tough to evaluate yourself. That self-evaluation should probably come from outside (I know, that's an oxymoron), but that's a subject for perhaps another time.
What may generally separate business consultants from more reasonable people is their comfort level with jumping into highly ambiguous and seemingly insurmountable situations. Furthermore, they often jump in with an optimism that says, "Sure, let's do this!" No, they don't always succeed, but at least, when they fail, its with a "can do" attitude!
Perhaps a good consultant is good because he or she starts with 3 attitudes:
Attitude 1 - "This CAN be done." Even if the end result of the consultation is that a project or effort should be disbanded, a good consultant can build on that for the company. "OK, this project stinks. Let's reallocate resources into something more beneficial."
Attitude 2 - "The PEOPLE in the organization I'm serving NEED A LIFT." They may need my expertise in this area or that field, but they personally need a boost. On an emotional level, the value proposition of good consultation sounds something like, "The entirety or a portion of this effort is too daunting for you. Let me help." Can you hear the sigh of relief? How much emotional energy and staff productivity can you save your client with a value proposition like that?
Attitude 3 - "I can do that!" Even if you don't yet know how to do it. You just think you can do it. And, that's good enough for starters.
So, next time someone asks you what you do, you can tell them that you don't entirely know, but that you are confident that you can do it, and "You're welcome!"
Do you have any stories of personally jumping into a difficult consulting situation, and something good came out of it? Feel free to share your experiences.