A few simple ideas to move your consultancy on the road to success.
The following are a few easy steps broken down to better promote yourself. I look forward to any comments and additions you wish to add. Be sure to leave a comment below!
Create your own elevator pitch.
An elevator pitch is a quick description of your business. For shorter conversations or for when you briefly meet someone, put a few sentences together you can rapidly repeat to describe your business. For longer conversations and meetings, have brief conversation-length ready for any opportunity. Have your past customers and projects in mind (or past employers). Be ready to explain your accomplishments. If you need ideas on an elevator pitch, use the points below.
Finding and marketing your value.
Know your strengths and sell those. That is right, you need to sell. Think of it this way, no business is done without buying and selling. NO BUSINESS. You are a business person…your former IR and CEO were great salespeople enabling you to work in your field and now its your turn to carry a flag and hustle a bit.
If you cannot think of much to say about yourself, ask your friends (who understand what you do for work) and your colleagues. Additionally, ask your family and friends about your personality. Everyone has unique characteristics to share and remember, if you feel like you are the odd person out in skill set, culture or sex, you will be a variation to a workgroup with automatically brings benefits to any client (variable skill set, man or woman, technical or creative, older and younger, cultural mixes).
Know your value and write it down. This is a key step. Make a 1-pager of the input you received from the step above then write yourself a bio. Read it over several times over a couple of days and make changes (5 minutes per day) and you will be surprised how interesting you are. If you come up with past mistakes, negative thoughts or failures, write them down and then write in the column next to it, what you have learned. BIG value in making mistakes. To fortify this, pick up a good business startup book and read how much failure and setback is experienced to create success. I will post book recommendations in the comments later.
Be committed and stay positive.
Remember being a consultant is a choice. You don´t do it because you lost your job, you do it because you are capable, driven and becaues you want to. Otherwise you go look for another job…big difference.
Surround yourself with like-thinkers. Let go of the negative and unsupportive and practice telling everyone including your dog what you do for a living. Like anything, the more you do it the more natural you become.
Market and sell yourself.
Put some deep consideration to your title. Decide what that title pays and where it puts you in your career track. Take no prisoners. You may be doing any number of things from economic models to GIS work and logging core or running a project but promote yourself to your highest capacity and within your experience level to your maximum abilities. Now give yourself a small promotion and you have your title. For example, even if you think the GIS work or field work will be easier to help find business, if that is not your end goal for work, remember people will treat you, pay you, remember you and refer you for those skills you promote and they will be relentless about it..it will be a lot of work to change your track later. Now ask yourself can you live with your title and does that realize your full value and career goals?
A tip regarding your new business; if you just started consulting, maybe refer to your years of experience rather than the number of months you have been a consultant.
Now that you have everything ready, how about easy methods to promote yourself? How about a blog or participating in online industry groups like Linked In professional groups? Are you promoting yourself on Facebook and Linked In? Use their combination to share value, to share your blog posts then support and friend/add contacts with whom you want to be working and would choose as mentors. How about guest blogging on my blog (get your feet wet and leave your bio and contact info for industry to read). Shy about blogging? There are a lot of resources for you online.
Attend and network at the conferences and association meetings.
There is a lot online about how to effectively network in conferences but also think about offering a short-course. Offer a technical talk at your professional association or provide guest articles in industry magazines. Push yourself out of your comfort zone (for then you know you are making progress). When at a conference, go to at least one social event and aim to speak to 5 people you never met before. Look for people who are alone or an engaged in casual group discussion.
Finally, invest in yourself.
If you cannot pay for courses at the moment find a way to budget that in, find a podcast, read a blog, read sales books to help you improve your pitch and perspective on selling your value.
If you are feeling compromised about the hourly or project rate you are offering, ask yourself what extra skill or value is in it for you if you take the contract. Thing of all the value angles the contract would bring to your business and that you would bring to your client. If clients are not going to pay you reasonably, they probably wont pay you at all….
These are a few things you can do and of course if you open up to investing in yourself you will find other advice to adopt along the way. If you want to talk about it, give me call or send me an email with your questions and comments. Remember we are all in it together and that guy you are going to ask to hire you as a consultant could be a consultant tomorrow and asking you for work or advice. Someone once said to me that we are one big family and what goes around comes around. Be positive, supportive and good luck!