Read any good books lately?

We checked out the hottest books on consulting at Whether you’re a veteran with twenty years under your belt or a neophyte just entering the field, you’ll want to read up on the latest trends in the IT consulting field to stay in the game.

The top five
Flawless Consulting: A Guide to Getting Your Expertise Used , by Peter Block (Jossey-Bass Publishers, 1981).

Although it was published nearly two decades ago, this practical, how-to-do-it guidebook is a perennial favorite. The book uses illustrative examples, case studies, and exercises to demonstrate error-free consulting. According to Block, “You are consulting any time you are trying to change or improve a situation but have no direct control over the implementation.” Fatbrain calls Flawless Consulting “friendly and practical… comes complete with handy checklists, diagrams, and bulleted lists.”

The Secrets of Consulting: A Guide to Giving and Getting Advice Successfully , by Gerald M. Weinberg (Dorset House, 1986).

Another “classic,” this book offers advice on how to keep ahead of your clients, create a special “consultant’s survival kit,” improve skills, negotiate in difficult situations, and measure your effectiveness. According to one reader review submitted to Fatbrain, The Secrets of Consulting is an “essential work for any consultant. Conveys the traps, tricks, and strategies of being a consultant. Very readable classic. Best of its kind.”

How to Be a Successful Computer Consultant, Fourth Edition, by Alan R. Simon (McGraw-Hill Companies, 1998).

Simon outlines the survival skills and technological expertise needed to be a sought-after consultant. This updated version’s new offerings include tips on assessing the effect and usefulness of new technologies, choosing your market and area of expertise, scoping out a client’s organization and corporate culture, coping with difficult clients/clients’ employees, and making career moves.

The Computer Consultant’s Workbook , by Janet Ruhl (Technion Books, 1995).

This book is a good choice for individuals who are trying to determine whether they possess the skills it takes to make it as an IT consultant. It includes tips on setting up a consulting practice, figuring out how much to charge, selling services to clients, avoiding payment problems, and working with third-party consulting firms. “With realistic guidance and proven methods,” Fatbrain notes, “this book should benefit consultants and those who use their services.”

The Computer Consultant’s Guide: Real-Life Strategies for Building a Successful Consulting Career, Second Edition, by Janet Ruhl (John Wiley & Sons, 1997).

This second edition by Ruhl includes updates on topics such as setting up your practice, insuring your business, billing, and marketing.

A few of our picks
From Serf to Surfer: Becoming a Network Consultant , by Matthew Strebe (Sybex Inc., 2000).

Strebe wrote Serf for networking pros who are experienced, skilled, and certified but stuck manning a help desk and babysitting servers. This book teaches them how to make the transition from working for a traditional employer to running an independent networking consultancy. It also includes pointers on how to write a business plan, market your services, set pricing and write contracts, and get clients.

The IT Consultant: A Commonsense Framework for Managing the Client Relationship, by Rick Freedman (Jossey-Bass, 2000).

Freedman, a TechRepublic columnist, focuses on the all-important client relationship. He offers his advice on developing and nurturing those relationships, helping clients visualize the end product of IT systems consulting projects, negotiate contracts, and more.

Getting Started in Computer Consulting, by Peter Meyer (John Wiley & Sons, 1999).

Prospective consultants with little business experience should read this book for guidance on contract issues, pricing, presentation skills, lecturing, training, troubleshooting, and solving hardware and software problems. One reader review described the book as “valuable for seasoned pros as well as start-up consultants … for consultants who would like to pick the clients you want to work with and to raise your fees, study and adapt the book’s Seven-Step Process.”
Want to recommend a great book on IT consulting? How about a dud that you threw out with the trash? Give us your thoughts by posting a comment below. If you have an idea for an article, e-mail us.