Being a Consultant with a lot of experiece, here are traits I think are important:
You must listen, listen and listen to your client before offering suggestions or solutions to a problem or issue.
You have to be open and honest at all times.
You have to be credible and proactive: if you give a date, or a date is on the Project Plan, you have to meet it, or explain why you can’t meet the date, proactively.
Remember that each company you Consult in will be different. Learn the new culture first before proceeding.
Look for your next Consulting job while working, if you can, because you just never know when the end will come with your current client.
Your fees can never exceed your proposed fees, unless you get permission from your client in writing. If there is an agreed upon change of fee structure, always confirm the change in writing.
Present a weekly detailed, confidential report to your client on a weekly basis, and meet with him/her, one-on-one to review your weekly findings and where you are, to agreed upon Project goals.
You should supply information to your client on the project at hand or any other applicable data.
If your client asks you for your confidentiality, be confidential at all times.
Stay out of company “politics.” This can defintely get you in trouble with your client.
Don’t get too close or personal with the person( s) you are in contact with on a daily basis.
Education and trainiing are vital to any project. Always educate first before you start a project. Never assume that the group you are working with understands the goals of the project. Continue education as you implement a concept or project. Ask questions to see that the goals are understood by all concerned.
Always be professional. Do not stoop to be unprofessional if provoked by anyome in the firm. Stand your ground if necessary.
Occassionally, it is a good idea to bring “goodies” into your client, like donuts or bakery goods. Ths helps morale, and they can see that you are invested in the client.
If things are not going well, and this will happen, use negative reinforcement to make your point, and get back on track with a positive attitude.
Thank the client each and every time you get a new retainer check based on your fee structure and retainer contract.