Consulting is a great alternative to being tied to a full-time job but it also means you need to do some additional things that you normally wouldn't consider as a full-time employee. Here are the most common mistakes we've seen consultants make that you should avoid.
1. Not Marketing Yourself Aggresively
As a consultant you are only as valuable as the demand for your skills and unfortunately being an individual consultant building a brand that competes for attention with the more well known Consulting companies is harder. So always look for ways to increase your visibility
a. Sign up and build a great profile on professional sites like LinkedIn or OnContracting
b. Your previous customers can be your best marketers, so get endorsed. It does wonders for your credibility.
2. Not Networking
Often consultants that are on a project lose sight of the fact that the project may end at some point. Make networking a habit and try to meet at least 1 person every week that is not related to your current project. It could help you build new insights, partnerships and relationships. Let people know you are consulting even if you are not actively looking for projects. This helps you build a good pipeline of prospects.
3. Not Current with Trends
As a consultant you are responsible for your own training. There is no HR/Training department that is planning, arranging or mandating you attend trainings. You need to keep abreast of the latest developments and trends and keep tabs on what skills and topics are hot. The best way to do this is to keep a tab on events and publications related to your field. This is so much easier these days using Twitter, blogs, etc to follow thoought leaders in your industry.
4. Unrealistic Rates
Nothing throws off a client than a consultant that doesn't know the market rates for their skills or quotes something really high. It makes sense to charge the client the max they are willing to pay, but do you know what the client is paying currently for consultants with your skills.
Say you are a SAP consultant that charges $250/hr for short term projects and your clients are small businesses in dire need. It may shock a Procurement Manager at a Fortune 500 company if you quote that because he of she may be used to paying $125/hr to Big 5 consulting firms because they usually have long term projects and pay T&E expenses extra. So make sure you understand who you are dealing with, how they operate and do your homework to find consultant bill rates before you quote a rate or better yet ask the client what they would be comfortable paying.
Tags: IT consulting Seattle, Freelance, Contracting mistakes, Consulting agreements, Outsourcing, Independent Consultants