How To Consult “On the Side”
So you want to be a consultant… What a great idea. Like anything though you need to have an idea where to begin.
Very simply – a consultant is a person who supply expert advice and assistance.
What will you be a consultant for?
Consultants are often sought after because there is a particular short term need or there is a sporadic need. In these cases it makes sense to have someone that is objective and not caught up in everything else that may be going on.
In order to work as a consultant “on the side”, you first need to position yourself as an expert in an area. Do not sell yourself short. I am a firm believer that no one person can know everything. To be an expert you must know all things you are generally expected to know. I know that sounds vague – but it is. For example you would consider doctors and lawyers to be experts. But do they know everything? Not at all. They know where to begin usually though to assess and plan. They have a network in place that will help them with any resources they need and they have the experience that shows they are experts.
Being a consultant “on the side” will carry some unique challenges. Getting your first client will be one of them for sure. After you first client it will get easier. After your first 5 – even easier… You need some way to get actual references and referrals. If you are a local consultant – reach out to local organizations. For example in our area we have small business networks. For me this is difficult because I work during the day when all their meetings are held. Do your research – volunteer for programs, get yourself out there when it works for you. Word will get spread as you become more visible. Offer services to begin with at a strong discount or perhaps even free. No you will not continue to work for free or cheaply but the initial referrals are critical. As you meet these prospective clients (because everyone is a prospective client) be sure to have business cards and some way for them to reach you and find out more about you. Websites are a great landing place for them to learn more or even social media pages. They may not feel as comfortable asking you in person all of their questions initially. They will want to see the services you offer – it is all about “what is in it for them”.
Always keep your skills sharp. If there are things changing in the marketplace – make sure you stay on top of that. Fall behind and you will lose clients. They will not want to do the research themselves – that is what they need you for. Sign up for newsletters that will keep you informed; new books in your industry etc…
Being a consultant is lucrative but it takes work and dedication. So what are you waiting for? Now is the time to get started and put yourself out there!