What tools are clients and information professionals using to search for the right consulting firm?
Many companies, from large to small, often seek professional consulting help for their various business needs. While many businesspersons may hear word-of-mouth recommendations or meet promising firms at industry conferences, others may need to search consultancy directories in order to select the right firm. Interestingly, even though seeking consulting firms is an everyday occurrence, there may not be a one-stop-shop for finding consultancies. An array of directories, databases and lists of consulting firms exist, each with its own search features, strengths and weaknesses.
Resources to use when searching for consulting firms:
When seeking a consulting firm, it might be surprising to discover that multiple resources may need to be searched. Some directories are more robust than others, with different search mechanisms and sorting features. Various resources are reviewed below:
- General business databases – The standard databases that search businesses can be used to find consultancies. These resources often include basic contact data like address and telephone number.
- Consulting industry directories – These directories quite often have a multitude of search variables to drill down to specific firms of interest.
- Niche industry/professional association directories – These specialized directories can often bring up contact details for consultants or consulting firms within a particular industry vertical.
- General Google searching – Although the concept of “Googling a consultant” may seem to be an overly simplistic way to find a qualified firm, sometimes a narrow specialty is needed and Internet searching may be one of the best ways to find these niche companies.
Breakdown of Various Consultancy Directories:
General Business Databases
Standard business databases such as Hoovers, ReferenceUSA and Find The Company all offer ways for users to search for companies within a certain industry and limit within a geographic area. Both Hoovers and ReferenceUSA are paid subscription databases, although Hoovers offers some free searching capabilities. These paid databases can often be found as subscriptions at large public libraries, whereby users can access the resources in the library or remotely from home. Find The Company is a free database that has fairly substantial search parameters like limiting by location and size of firm. Overall, these databases are good for broad types of searches like obtaining a list of all management consulting firms in Maryland. They are less useful for very specific, niche searches like finding digital consulting firms with experience in influencer marketing in Anchorage, Alaska.
Consulting Industry Directories
Perhaps the most noted consultancy database is Consultants & Consulting Organizations Directory, published by the Gale publishing group. Published annually for multiple years, this paid subscription resource contains the records of 26,000 consultancies. Advanced search capabilities are available, which include limiting by industry niche, size of firm, location of firm and founding year. This database is accessible in some larger public libraries. Another resource that may be helpful is the Consultancy Register, which is a free database that searches for international consultants. Regarding searching for strictly independent consultants, The Directory of Independent Consultants , a free resource, may be useful.
Niche Industry/Professional Association Directories
For ways to find consultancies within a specific industry vertical, a multitude of resources are available. The search tactic that may be best is to visit the professional association websites of the given industries and search to see if there are online directories of members or vendor directories. Quite often, these lists or databases will provide contact details to consultants and consultancies within the industry. Examples include the IEEE consultants directory on the website of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. When searching by specialty, individual consultant records will come up on the results list, each one listing contact details and the particular firm in which the consultant is employed. The Society for Human Resource Management offers a list of HR consulting firms on their webpage. There is no searching or sorting capabilities, but broad categories of consulting specialties can be clicked so that firm names appear, along with contact details.
General Google Searching
If the consulting specialty desired is an especially narrow industry vertical or skill, and standard directories do not yield satisfactory results, one option may be to simply do a Google search for the selected criteria. For example, if one is seeking consulting firms with a specialty in wind farm M&A advisory, by simply typing into Google, “consulting wind farm M&A,” the search results yield the name of MAKE Consulting. The homepage of this consultancy explains their expertise in wind farm valuations and mergers and acquisitions advisement. Of course, further due diligence is required in addition to basic Internet searching when choosing a consulting firm, but the online searching tactic can at least be a starting point to obtain a list of firms.
Finding the right consulting firm directories which have the right robustness and search parameters can make consulting seeking a much easier task. With the combination of personal recommendations, networking activities, business news analysis and in-person interviewing of consultants, a prospective client is enabled to find the right professionals for the job.
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