To consult means to "seek advice from," as in seek advice from an accountant or an attorney. Thus, it would seem that clients are also consultants in that they are the ones who are usually seen as seeking advice. An expert is someone who is very skillful; having much training and knowledge in a special field. There might or may not be a connection between our training and our knowledge and skills. From this, it follows that a consultant, if he or she is indeed an expert, must be an effective learner, that is, capable of acquiring knowledge and skill from experience, whether or not that experience evolves training.
Expert, experience, experiential, and experiment – these words all have a common Latin root – experiri, meaning to try, to test, to prove. A consultant, then, is above all else empirical, that is, willing to try things to see what happens. A consultant is usually outside the client organization. Consultants learn about their clients from observing them and it is what they learn about their clients that they ever share with their clients.
A consultant, then, is someone who helps others profit or learn from their own experience. A really good consultant also helps clients to see the value of their experience and so their fees are rarely seen as exorbitant.
In order to meet the different needs of a wide range of companies, consultants offer their expertise in many different areas. Long-term consulting, which is also referred to as relationship consulting, involves a long-term commitment to a company. Over the course of many years, a consultant will continue to monitor a business and discuss possible changes with executives. Consultant training will help you develop some of the necessary relationship skills and advise the client on how this kind of consulting is different from consulting on a short-term project.
Short-term consulting, however, is operated with a specific objective in mind. Companies hire a consultant (who is often an expert in a specific area) to advise them on a particular topic. One of the most common topics of short-term consulting is technology consulting, for businesses wishing to improve their technology infrastructure. Other companies may hire a consultant as they consider expansion or a merger. Sometimes a business needs advice on workplace issues or on globalization options.