One of the number one skills of any great consultant is resourcefulness. Being able to quickly solve problems and develop high quality work is a necessary skill, but no one expects you to know it all from day one. But having a set of resources to help you find answers right at your fingertips when you need them will help you to stand out from the pack.
Whether you need to get important industry information, create a killer PowerPoint or Excel spreadsheet, or just read a little career advice, here are seven online resources that I use to help me day to day.
If a hammer is the tool of choice for a homebuilder, then Excel is the equivalent for consulting. The program is one of the most fundamental skills to master within consulting, but it also requires significant practice and often a helping hand.
Chandoo, an Excel master, offers online courses, downloadable Excel templates and dashboards, and a wealth of tips, tricks, and how-to advice on both basic and advanced Excel functions. This is my first stop when building out a new financial valuation model or trying to improve the quality of my Excel deliverables.
2. Victor Cheng, CaseInterview.com
I always direct potential management consulting candidates to Victor Cheng—he specializes in helping prepare management consulting candidates for interviews with resume tips, videos, articles, and coaching resources focused on helping people ace the case. I have interviewed a number of people who have used his resources, and the approach is very effective. This site is a great place for consulting hopefuls to begin.
During your education, you likely learned about a number of strategic models, such as SWOT or Porter’s, and how to apply them to solve problems. However, there are many more models that exist, and when you need a refresher on when and how to use them, MindTools is there. The site provides an overview on a number of tools and has a good list of strategy frameworks that you can reference throughout your project work.
ConsultingMag is a magazine and website that caters exclusively to the consulting industry. The site features news about consulting firms, rankings across the firms, as well as some important resources such as job postings, company profiles, and free webinars. This is a good place to frequent to stay up to date on industry happenings.
GoMiles is an online tool and website focused on helping to manage your frequent travel points. I use this tool exclusively to help track my progress toward elite status (check out my article on travel points for more tricks of the trade). The tool also helps to ensure I don’t let any of my points expire or go unused and determines potential transferability between programs to maximize rewards.
6. SlideShare and Graphic River
Most firms will train you on their unique PowerPoint style and provide you with templates or PowerPoint add-ins to help you, but sometimes you may need some additional inspiration. Slideshare can be a good place to start to see general slide design or find presentations made on specific topics, but I’ll also often browse through Graphic River, which has pre-made PowerPoint templates and layouts for purchase.
I’ve talked about Feedly before, and it’s by far the favorite and most frequented online tool of nearly everyone I meet. The news aggregator allows you to subscribe to websites or RSS feeds and read what gets published on a daily basis. I typically make sure to follow my clients, favorite blogs, and general news sites like The Wall Street Journal and Reuters. This tool is vital for staying up to date on what is happening in the world, in your industry, and with your clients.
Tell us! What online tools can you not live without?
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Photo of computer courtesy of Shutterstock.