Consultants can often get a bad rap, as lots of clients who may have experienced working with them before have been left with the feeling of being charged a lot of money and then supplied with a fancy presentation recommending expensive solutions but not actually solving the issue in the business they were hired to do in the first place.
But there are many ways we can combat this view, and prove to our clients that consultants can be hugely beneficial. Here are just a few ways you can future-proof your career as an independent contractor….
Spot any gaps in your client’s roles and work to improve your skill set to fill them. If you are constantly delivering here your clients will keep coming back for more. Consultants also add deep focus to address one problem, as they are not tied to the business as an employee and are not distracted by the day to day business issues of their clients.
Ensure your client understands your working patterns and what can be achieved in the time they are paying you for. It can be easy to want to impress a client by over-delivering or completing a project ahead of time, but all the hours you work to achieve this could be spent on another client you are getting paid for. It is not sustainable and not good practice, and your time is your business. It is better to be upfront and ensure you are getting the benefits that you wanted when you became an independent consultant, and your clients will appreciate that deadlines will be met as expected.
If you do good work, people will share this by word of mouth, social media, networking events. Make sure you join in! Attend client and industry events and functions. If you are not aware of any, talk to friends and colleagues who might be. Browse networking sites such as Meetup or eventbrite. Check your social media. Your local library may also be able to tell you of events nearby. When you attend, ensure you have your ‘elevator pitch’ nailed, and that you add new contacts to your network and follow up with them!
Do your market research on what you should be charging. You are not a fixed employee anymore and not receiving the same benefits, and so can charge more to allow for this as you need to arrange these for yourself. Companies save on average 30% when they employ a contractor. Do an honest self assessment on your experience and the value you can provide. You don’t want to charge too much and gain no interest, or too little that you get too much and risk positioning yourself too low.
Never speak a bad word about a client. Whichever industry you are in, everybody knows everybody (or at least one degree of separation away!) Always be thankful of every opportunity even if it does not feel like any follow on opportunities are to be had. You never know where someone you have worked with on a project will end up a few years down the line.
Neil is co-founder and CEO of ten80. With a strong background in SAP, Neil has worked as an end user, a consultant and as a contractor. He set up ten80 to allow clients to access the best SAP resources worldwide, and save money in the process.
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