The Three Fundamental Skills of a Successful Internet Consultant


Willie Mays baseball card
Image courtesy of Baseball Collection,

Have you ever heard of the term “five tool player?” It’s a phrase used to describe a particular baseball player who has the capacity to excel at hitting for average, hitting for power, base running skills, throwing ability, and fielding abilities. While it may seem like that’s what baseball players should be good at anyway (considering their paycheck size), the truth is most are proficient at 2-3 of those abilities.

Five tool players don’t come around very often—in fact, only a handful of major league baseball players have ever been classified as such. So, it comes with so surprise that these types of players are coveted and sought after by teams looking to add extra balance to their clubhouse’s overall skill set.

Okay, that’s enough about baseball (I have a hard time bringing it up myself, considering the current performance of the 2012 Red Sox). So what’s the purpose of me talking about some skill measuring term from America’s favorite past time? I think the same classification structure of the five-tool player can be applied to the Internet Consultant. How so, you say? Let’s investigate!

Like anything on the Internet, this metaphor is constantly evolving. This analysis will focus on the holistic skill-set of an Internet Consultant, incorporating additional sought-after expertise such as technical prowess and design chops.

  1. Mastering the Website: Just like every baseball team needs a pitcher, every business needs a website. An effective Internet Consultant will not only have the resources to create a great looking site—they’ll understand the key steps necessary to optimize it for search engines and make it functional from a business standpoint. Here’s each point in more detail:
    1. Capacity to build a site – This means building from the ground up OR being able to take a current site and implement modifications to make it more functional.
    2. Understanding Design vs. Functionality – Two schools of thought that work best when everyone gets along. Design is important, but without any site functionality, a website is nothing more than a business card in a vacuum. On the flipside, an ugly site doesn’t impress anyone, even if it is optimized for search engines. An Internet Consultant with a firm grasp of this balance will ensure a happy medium is reached between design and functionality.
    3. Search Engine Visibility – A beautiful, well functioning website is worthless if it can’t be found by the right people. An effective Internet Consultant will ensure that the website is not only being found—but that it’s being visited by the right people. The latter requires an understanding of search engine optimization best practices coupled with marketing knowledge (another point explored below).
  2. Possessing the Marketing Knowledge: Building an effective website and leveraging Internet trends can only be as impactful as one’s understanding of Marketing. To be a successful Internet Consultant, an individual must uncover the marketing opportunities, understand them, and then simultaneously implement them into the technological, functional and design aspects of a consulting project.
    1. Your Target Audience: To be fully effective here, it’s imperative to understand who they are, how you can reach them, and (once you’ve reached them) how to engage them. Discovering these three elements will also help shape the way a website should be developed or modified (from a design and functionality standpoint).
    2. Creativity: This is the equivalent of the charisma and personality a five-tool baseball player can bring to the clubhouse. While not a necessity to be successful, it’s one core competency that will make an Internet Consultant stand out in a positive way. Considering how fast the Internet is evolving and how short our attention spans are shrinking, it’s becoming increasingly important to innovate in order to be seen.
  3. Understanding the Trends: The Internet is changing by the minute. Social networks develop, mature and die within months. A successful Internet Consultant will keep up with trends, following the proven practices and understanding how to best leverage change.
    1. Social Media: While it’s a hot topic and everyone wants to implement it, a smart Internet Consultant will dip into social with a levelheaded strategy. Understanding what’s best for a business in terms of social media marketing is crucial to developing an effective strategy. It’s less about doing it because everyone else is and more about doing what’s right from a strategy standpoint. Ask “why should we do this?” more often than exclaim “let’s just do it!”
    2. News: Staying current with the latest happenings in the news is also a core competency of an Internet Consultant. Keeping on top of current events will not only aid one’s content strategy, but will ensure that best practices are being followed during implementation.

While baseball players can be successful with only a few of the required skills to become a five-tool player (and still get an enormous salary), a truly effective Internet Consultant must possess all the aforementioned skills (or the capacity to recognize their necessity and find the resources to execute them).

Guest Author Bio

Alec (or Al) Biedrzycki is Boston native and a graduate of Bentley University, the Waltham-based business school from which he acquired a degree in Marketing. He works at HubSpot as a consultant for the company’s partner agencies. Read Al’s blog or follow him on Twitter.