(Businessweek) — 1. Treat your consultant as a partner. The most successful consultation relationships I’ve had, both as an employer and a contractor, are when service providers are treated as an extension of the team. This manifests through setting clear expectations, presenting an atmosphere that respects the contract services, and working seamlessly so you enlist the best ideas and contributions to a strategy or a project from both the in-house and external teams. 2. Share information. The more service providers are kept in the know, the better equipped they are to give their best advice and to identify how they can add value. Invite your consultants to important meetings, send them business updates that relate to the project you’ve contracted with them, and share staff and organizational changes. If you expect them to guess your needs or be strategic while only seeing pieces of the puzzle, you may be undermining your own contractors—and diminishing what they can accomplish for you.