SHUT UP AND LISTEN
When working with a client, I have developed the habit, upon first meeting a client, to shut up and listen. That's right, I try to say as little as possible.
Before going to the first meeting with a client, I do some research on the type of business they are in, however, upon the first visit, I still go tabula rasa (blank slate). You may ask: Shouldn't you go with a plan? That is what I used to do, however, I have learned that, as a consultant helping a client develop their business, I am acting as a guide. I am not there to tell the client what to do. Most clients already know what they want, however, what they need is someone to guide them into making those ideas come to life, to make them reality. It is, in my opinion, the essence of what it means to be a consultant.
By shutting up and listening, I will allow the client to express their ideas in "raw data." It is then my responsibility to take that raw data and turn into a visually structured end result: a business card that flows into a brochure that flows into a website that flows into social media...you get the picture.