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Listen in! Pick up some expert advice to a reader's question that we selected from CyberSchmooz.

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Five Ideas for Budding Consultants

 

Becoming a consultant is a dream for many professionals in a wide variety of industries. A consultant is traditionally free from the confines of a traditional 9 to 5 job. Much of the time, a  consultant starts working when they want to, works where they want to, and takes time off when they want to. Obviously there will be times when you’ve made commitments to your clients; however, as a consultant you can hope to enjoy greater freedom than if you were an employee of those clients.

 

If you’re hoping to start a career - or even a side gig - as a consultant, here are five ideas to help you get started.

 

Keep Up-to-Date in Your Field - Sure, this sounds like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised at how many people print business cards for consulting services yet don’t religiously read the major industry publications. While this may mean free news websites and blogs, sometimes the best sources of news in a given field is behind a paywall or subscription model. If that’s the case, subscribe and write it off as a business expense. If you put in the hours studying the trade publication, it will help you in the long term.

 

When Traveling for Business, Stay Longer and Network - As a consultant, you might occasionally be asked to travel so that you can meet with your clients and provide on-site services. The usual method for a consultant is to keep those trips as short and as efficient as possible; however, consider extending your stay. Once you’ve fulfilled your contract, schedule meetings with other businesses who could potentially benefit from your services. Even if you don’t land new contracts immediately, this type of face-to-face networking can help you build a foundation of contacts that helps your journey in all sorts of ways. Ivan Misner, a consultant who is often called the father of modern networking, said: “Networking is more about farming than it is about hunting.” Porter Gale, an author and professional public speaker, said: “Your network is your net worth.”  If you’re having trouble finding furnished accommodations in month-long increments, try an online platform such as Zeus Living; they offer stylish, internet-ready homes in major cities that work well for traveling consultants.

 

Write (or Co-Write) a Blog - If you can’t come up with anything to write about in a blog, you may want to question whether you’re ready to start consulting. It’s true that a common fear among beginning bloggers is that they’ll be giving away the store. Yet by writing a blog, you can show potential clients that you are truly an expert in the field. David Meerman Scott, author of “The New Rules of Marketing and PR,”  wrote: “You can buy attention (advertising). You can beg for attention from the media (PR). You can bug people one at a time to get attention (sales). Or you can earn attention by creating something interesting and valuable and then publishing it online for free.”

 

Turn Your Blog Into an eBook - When you write a blog for awhile, you build a great supply of content over time. Some of that content at least will (hopefully) be valuable to other people in your field. If you extract the core - the most valuable pieces of what you’ve blogged about - you’re on your way to a more or less ready-made eBook. Pay a proofreader and someone to do the design and layout, which will give your eBook a professional touch. Once you put your eBook together, use it to help build an email list by offering it to visitors to your blog in exchange for signing up. 


Then Turn Your Blog into an Actual Book - Once you’ve been blogging for awhile and have built an email subscription list with the offering of your free eBook, you might decide that it’s time to turn all that content into an actual book. Doing so will really help establish you in your field, and can lead to more than just one-on-one consultant gigs. This is how many professional public speakers got their start.

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