The best books for freelance consultants and management consultants

Who am I?

I am one of those people who has several careers going on at once. I am widely known as a professional writer and have written 18 books, mostly professional and business books, but I have also written in the self-help genre and some fiction. In parallel with this, I am an independent consultant and have run my consultancy business Enixus Limited for almost 20 years helping large organisations worldwide with complex change programmes. Most of my business books weave together my love of writing with my professional interests and experiences.

I wrote...

The Freelance Consultant: Your Comprehensive Guide to Starting an Independent Business

By Richard Newton,

Book cover of The Freelance Consultant: Your Comprehensive Guide to Starting an Independent Business

What is my book about?

My professional books always start with observations about the world of work – observations that lead me to question something, and this results in a book that sets out to answer those questions. This book started with a number of observations, but central to that was noting that there was a huge difference in the levels of success of the most successful and the least successful freelance consultants. By ‘success’ I don’t just mean money, I mean the ability to achieve the goals you want to achieve when you set out as a freelancer. This may be about money, but often it is about freedom, independence and having the work life balance you want. In this book through my own experiences, but also using the stories of 13 other freelance consultants I explore what it is that the successful freelancers do, that their less successful peers don’t.

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The books I picked & why

The Trusted Advisor

By David H. Maister, Charles H. Green, Robert M. Galford

Book cover of The Trusted Advisor

Why did I love this book?

This was the book that really got me thinking about consultancy, professional services and that broad category of work that you get paid to help people because of what you know. The central topic of this book is trust. Now we all understand what trust is – or at least we think we do. But when faced with the challenge of building trust many of us stumble. This book breaks trust down into its component parts and explores how you can use this understanding to build trust. Trust building is essential whenever you offer service to someone else, especially when it is an intangible service like consultancy. Every consultant and every freelancer should read this book.

By David H. Maister, Charles H. Green, Robert M. Galford

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Trusted Advisor as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Integrating detailed analysis, illuminating examples, and a hands-on approach, this practical business handbook explores the essential components and benefits of developing trust-based relationships in the corporate world.

Book cover of Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion

Why did I love this book?

If trust is the thing you need to win and retain clients, the ability to influence them with your ideas is the next essential part of being a successful advisor, coach, or consultant. I really love Cialdini’s book because it takes a very honest approach to persuasion. Cialdini is an academic, so the book is based on rigorous research (unlike many business books!). But he is also a grounded human being who came to look at persuasion not because he sees himself as the most persuasive person in the world – quite the contrary, he openly admits to being easy to persuade and occasionally a bit of a sucker for sales techniques. But because of this, he is interested to understand what is going on when we are persuaded by someone else.

By Robert B. Cialdini,

Why should I read it?

22 authors picked Influence as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The foundational and wildly popular go-to resource for influence and persuasion-a renowned international bestseller, with over 5 million copies sold-now revised adding: new research, new insights, new examples, and online applications.

In the new edition of this highly acclaimed bestseller, Robert Cialdini-New York Times bestselling author of Pre-Suasion and the seminal expert in the fields of influence and persuasion-explains the psychology of why people say yes and how to apply these insights ethically in business and everyday settings. Using memorable stories and relatable examples, Cialdini makes this crucially important subject surprisingly easy. With Cialdini as a guide, you don't have…

Book cover of Humble Inquiry: The Gentle Art of Asking Instead of Telling

Why did I love this book?

Over a number of decades, Schein has been one of the guiding thinkers in professional services and consultancy. His books are always worth reading as the advice is sounds and practical. In this book he talks about how it is better, and more productive, to help people by the practice of asking questions rather than giving answers. The model in the book goes completely against the stereotype of the consultant as a brash and overconfident individual pretending to be an expert who can tell anyone the answer to any question. Instead, Schein proposes a model that would be more familiar to those with a coaching background. It is brilliant advice.

By Edgar H. Schein, Peter A. Schein,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Humble Inquiry as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This worldwide bestseller offers simple guidance for building the kind of open and trusting relationships vital for tackling global systemic challenges and developing adaptive, innovative organizations—over 200,000 copies sold and translated into seventeen languages!

We live, say Edgar and Peter Schein, in a culture of “tell.” All too often we tell others what we think they need to know or should do. But whether we are leading or following, what matters most is we get to the truth. We have to develop a commitment to sharing vital facts and identifying faulty assumptions—it can mean the difference between success and failure.…

Book cover of Million Dollar Consulting: The Professional's Guide to Growing a Practice

Why did I love this book?

I suspect no list of books on consulting would not be complete without at least one book from Alan Weiss. He has written a number of books on consulting – on setting up a business, writing proposals, and value-based fees. It is an all-around useful guide to building a consulting business, with the focus very much on the business side of being a consultant.

By Alan Weiss,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Million Dollar Consulting as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Build a thriving consultancy with the updated edition of this classic bestseller

Having inspired generations of consultants and entrepreneurs around the world, the "Rock Star of Consulting" Alan Weiss returns with a revised and completely updated edition of his authoritative guide to consulting success.

Weiss provides his time-tested model on creating a flourishing consulting business, while incorporating and focusing on the many dynamic changes in solo and boutique consulting, coaching, and entrepreneurship. In addition to guidance on raising capital, attracting clients, and creating a marketing plan, he also gives brand new step-by-step advice on:

* Harnessing today's global opportunities

Book cover of How Clients Buy: A Practical Guide to Business Development for Consulting and Professional Services

Why did I love this book?

The part about consulting many people hate is the selling bit. Well what better way to go into a conversation in which you are trying to sell your services than with an understanding of the process clients go through to buy? This book provides a useful understanding of the client’s viewpoint of consulting. Although I think it is of best use to those in sales roles in larger consultants and professional services firms, there is also advice, or perhaps a way of thinking, that is useful to everyone from the biggest firm to that single freelance consultant.

By Tom McMakin, Doug Fletcher,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked How Clients Buy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The real-world guide to selling your services and bringing in business

How Clients Buy is the much-needed guide to selling your services. If you're one of the millions of people whose skills are the 'product,' you know that you cannot be successful unless you bring in clients. The problem is, you're trained to do your job-not sell it. No matter how great you may be at your actual role, you likely feel a bit lost, hesitant, or 'behind' when it comes to courting clients, an unfamiliar territory where you're never quite sure of the line between under- and over-selling. This…

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Interested in persuasion, marketing, and influence?

9,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about persuasion, marketing, and influence.

Persuasion Explore 21 books about persuasion
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Influence Explore 15 books about influence