Are you a consultant wondering how you can get more paying clients? Or, have you been considering a new career in consulting and want to know the best ways to fill your diary with appointments? Either way, these 3 detailed tips below will either get you back on track or help you launch a successful consultant career.
If you are just starting in the management consulting world, you should prepare yourself for long hours, develop an ability to change direction mid-project, and be able to cope with the stress of looming deadlines. Being an independent consultant can be a tough gig, but it’s also a rewarding one with lots of variety to make every day a unique experience.
Being a startup founder at CleverX, I have interacted with 100’s if not 1000’s of consultants on what works and what doesn’t.
It would be easy to list a few sites where you may be able to score a few paying clients if you get lucky, but that would only answer where not how; and we know that’s not why you are here. You want clear, actionable steps that take curious visitors and converts them into paying customers.
- Know How to Attract the Right Clients
Finding the right clients requires that you have a deep understanding of your audience. We know you’re eager to get going as a business consultant, but laying a good foundation first will ensure your time isn’t taken up by time wasters whom you have no hope of converting.
Develop Your Portfolio
You may have noticed that top consulting firms spend a great deal of time and money ensuring their websites look the part and project an air of professionalism. If you’re thinking “but I know nothing about web development,” then you wouldn’t be the first.
Sure, you can get started without a fancy website. However, as an independent consultant, you absolutely must have a portfolio that displays your level of talent in all its glory. A few pictures with links won’t cut it. Add descriptive elements that tell a story about what you achieved.
Include the challenges you faced and how you overcame them. Finally, a testimonial from the client will add authority to your claims.
There are lots of ways to get an attractive looking website without paying a developer more than you can afford. Start with Wix or Squarespace and pay the small monthly fee. Self-hosting with WordPress and adding a theme is a slightly more technical route, but doable on a smaller budget.
Find quick ways to create a professional website, don’t lose a lot of time in developing a website that requires your energy in outsourcing, design, development. There are tools out there to make it happen in a matter of few days
Focus on your Niche
Time and time again, as a consultant you are always in a dilemma to go broad vs specialization in offering your services, initially it seems logical to go broad and market to clients on different initiatives or project, but it’s a dangerous road that might lead you to get lesser traction in any specialization and you might end up spreading yourself too thin.
The best of the consultants have picked up a niche that they are great at, probably they fall in the top 10% category, and that’s what you should be aiming for right from the beginning. Customers love specialist because you can bring relevance and reduce their learning curve by being actionable from day 1 of engaging with them.
Specialization over broad is the way to go !
If you notice any top professional in their field, it is highly unlikely that they share common beliefs like the rest. They always have a different perspective on things that they believe in and they are quite open to share and talk about them.
By no means I am implying that you should act and be different for the sake of being different, but you should be in a position to know so much more about a topic that your have newer insights to share with fellow consultants, potential and existing customers.
Share something that people don’t much about.
- Create a Social Media Presence
Your prospects are on social media, which means you need to have an active presence wherever your ideal customer hangs out the most. Here’s how to make efficient use of social media for attracting new clients.
Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile
If you are not on LinkedIn, then you should be. LinkedIn is a powerhouse of a social media platform with a arguably an advantages over Facebook, Twitter, and all the others, in that it is strictly for business.
Complete your profile and leave nothing unsaid. Use keywords in your title and the URL. Bullet points are an excellent way to provide a quick overview of your skill set. Finally, be sure to ask for recommendations to start your name circulating as a go-to business consultant.
Find the Right Platforms
Social Media is a lucrative source of trade for many a business consultant, and you can’t afford to not be on it. Multiple social media presences are necessary for getting your name known, building relationships, and establishing trust and authority.
However, social media marketing can take up a fair chunk of your time, so you want to maximize its potential. Before going out and creating profiles on as many social media sites as you can, take the time to find out which platforms are most likely to harbor your key demographic.
As with LinkedIn, be sure to use appropriate keywords in your profiles to ensure your name comes up in any related searches.
- Finding Paying Clients
There are many ways to find paying clients. Here are a few we know will give you the most success.
Hopefully, you left your previous employer on good terms. You may not be working there anymore, but that doesn’t mean you should forget about the wealth of connections you have left behind.
It’s highly likely that your specialty is in an area where you could help out other entrepreneurs who operate in a complimentary niche, but one that doesn’t directly compete with yours.
For instance, if you develop branding strategies, then your skill set would be valuable to a logo designer who has startup clients looking to establish an identity.
You may specialize in SEO. In this case, your services would be highly sought after by web developers who outsource their SEO work so they can focus on web design.
Once you get the relationship going and have developed a good rapport you can add incentives for recommendations, or agree to take on work when needed.
Facebook groups are an excellent source of paying customers for consulting firms if you use them the right way. Find a group related to your niche, request to join, and then focus on posting helpful information.
Be wary of appearing spammy as this will turn members off and likely get you booted from the group. Check in every day, be genuine in your answers and you may be surprised at how many members reach out to you for paid consulting work.
It would help if you also considered starting your own management consulting Facebook group to build authority in your niche and establish yourself as the go-to source for problem-solving.
Freelance Work Sites
Ideally, you want to be reaching out to customers through web properties you own, but Freelance sites are an excellent way to get the ball rolling while you work at gaining experience in management consulting.
Develop Your Website
Once you have your website up and showcasing your services, don’t just let it sit there as a glorified online brochure. Your blog can become a lucrative source of paid work if you continue to build it out.
A blog is a perfect platform for fostering relationships and building on your authority as a leading independent consultant.
Research your target market, find out what questions they are asking via keyword research, and then create posts which answer those questions. Adding more keyword targeted posts will help your site earn more presence in the search engines and bring in more leads.
Promote Your Website with Paid Advertising
Paid advertising is an excellent reason to own your website because don’t want to be paying for traffic and sending it to a property you don’t control. Popular platforms for paid advertising include Facebook and Google Adwords, but a quick Google search will bring up a few others that have reasonable reach.
Capture Your Leads
A major downfall of websites is that once a visitor leaves, they rarely come back. You can mitigate this problem a little by capturing your visitors’ contact details in an email list.
Add a tasty free incentive as compensation for the contact details such as a free report, or a free consulting session. You now have a highly targeted prospect you can guide by the hand through your sales funnel until they convert into a paying customer.
For some of us speaking and presenting to a room full of audience might not be a thing of comfort, and that’s OK. However if you can always start small, by getting 15–20 minutes speaking engagements initially with small group of audiences, it will help you hone that skill and build your courage.
The idea is to be seen as a though leader in your space, so people can reach you out for advice and help and that’s the end goal of doing speaking engagements.
If there’s anything you should be taking away from the above tips is that getting a flood of paying clients isn’t as hard as you thought it would be, but neither is it a walk in the park. Technology has created more freedom for consultants who are willing to strike out on their own and become a valuable member of the global economy.