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Marketing yourself as a consultant

So you have a marketing plan, you understand what you will be offering and who is likely to be interested. You know what kind of consultancy interests you and you have a clear idea on the fees you will be charging.

You have a presentation at the ready that sets out in general terms who you are, what your skills are and what you have to offer to potential customers. You’ve got your business card and you are ready to go.

The challenge now is to work out where you should be focusing your attention and deciding how to reach the decision-makers within businesses to ensure that you are considered when an opportunity crops up. You are going to have to be more inventive and creative in your search as it requires a different mindset and a different approach to a more conventional job search when you might be looking for a full-time role.

Start with networking

The starting point for any search is networking because, after all, it is people who make decisions on who they want to help them on a permanent or a temporary basis.

Research shows that new opportunities are likely to come through people who are part of your extended network, not those who are closest to you. In order to market yourself as a consultant, you have to have an audience. What does your own particular audience look like?

It’s highly likely that the starting point of any business connection is probably through your network. Human engagement and communication is what we are aiming for so you need to create a plan that will work for you.

Start by carrying out a full audit of who you know. You will want to raise your profile and remind people about who you are and what you are doing now. Networking is a legitimate and essential business skill and it needs to be planned for in the same way as other business activities. Now is the time to accept an invitation automatically rather than a default position of declining it. Once you start this kind of networking and engaging, it will create more and more opportunities.

Own your social media presence

Whatever your approach to social media may be, the reality is that you already have a social media presence. The best attitude therefore is to make sure that it reflects who you are.

There are varying levels of potential engagement with social media. Twitter, if you have the right information stream, is a great way to have a high-level sweep through diverse strands of information.

How up to date is your LinkedIn profile? Is it the profile of someone who is now a consultant? Spend time working on your profile so it reflects past experiences and successes as well as establishing you firmly in your new persona. Anyone who is seen to be active on LinkedIn is generally considered to be looking for something. The message therefore remains consistent - engagement will bring results. Passivity will give you nothing.

Be a thought leader

How do you establish yourself as a thought leader? If you want to share your views on business, leadership, management, people or the challenges of your specific sector, why not decide to write a blog and build up a following of interested people? If you don’t want to write a blog, why not find a blog that interests you and leave comments and views on the topic being discussed?

There are many routes to gaining consultancy opportunities and you’ve probably already created the list of people you will approach. These are the foundations of a long-term plan.

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