My 9 secrets to boost your career of consultant
Updated: Feb 13
Not everyone of us want to be an employee forever! Life is full of surprises and it can happen that you become a consultant, by choice or by accident, during your professional career.
I have worked for 3 and a half years as a consultant – a real one, a freelance (I am not talking about the consultant contract you sign with some organizations -I won’t name them- to do the job of an employee).
COVID19 was and still is not easy for consultants! Some of my friends were not able to work for several months, with everything that comes with it, seriously self-questioning their life model.
Today, I wanted to share with you 9 simple but powerful tips to boost your career of consultant or how to make the difference in these troubled times?
1. Be present on social medias
It often happens that organizations are looking for consultants with a specific expertise, but they don’t know any consultant who has the right profile or they do not have the perfect candidate in their roster (if they have any).
In this situation, they can advertise externally the “terms of reference” OR they are using their networks and more and more, social medias.
Yes, social medias are now the virtual place to be, where you can show and demonstrate your expertise, make yourself known and find new professional opportunities!
The first step is to be present on social medias: Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram are the most used platforms for professional purpose.
Don’t try to be on all of them: it’s more efficient to focus on one or two and work on the quality of your virtual profile because it takes time to build the perfect one.
Having a LINKEDIN account is COMPULSORY – it’s a very powerful international professional network platform where you can connect with other professionals. You will also find a lot of interesting content and consultancy opportunities. This is the MUST BE social media.
You’ll find here sound advices to create a great linkedin profile or boost your existing profile (and don’t forget to put a picture on the background !!).
Facebook is also a good network with its private humanitarian and development groups, where you can share information about expatriation, work opportunities and up-to-date articles in our sector.
Twitter is great if you want to share or receive real time information, the MUST BE social media for communicators and information lovers!
2. Be visible on social medias and show your expertise
Having a social media profile is not sufficient, you need to be visible!
As a freelancer or consultant, you need to be recognized for your expertise, your added value and professionalism. Social medias will help you build and expand your reputation.
How to create added value and create your virtual reputation? This is about self-promotion and “personal branding”.
Share quality content – articles you read and share with a relevant comment, write valuable comments to a post or article you read on the social media.
More importantly, create and share your own contents. You’re a GIS folk? Create a map and share it on your account with your own analysis!
You just finalized a great report? Share some recommendations and ideas in a post, If the report is public, share the link!
3. Create and expand your virtual network
Welcome in the virtual world!
Your network doesn’t stop with your physical network, the people you’ve met and worked with during your career. You can now reach out to other consultants, experts or potential customers virtually.
Identify experts in your sector or who can complement your expertise on your favorite social media or when you participate to webinars and online courses. You will be contacted thanks to a post or comment you wrote on the social medias.
Send them an invitation and a gentle introduction message, you have nothing to lose!
The worst case scenario: they don’t respond.
The best case scenario: you win a new professional contact and a new opportunity!
4. Find peers, new associates or partners for new clients
As a consultant, you’re often alone, struggling to finish your report in front of your laptop. You often have a limited visibility for future consultancies.
But, you are not ALONE! Identify and contact other consultants who could become peers, partners or new associates. Identify consultancies’ firms you could work with and send your CV. Expand your network of experts! You’ll be able to share ideas and enrich your consultancy work.
Do you think that this approach can jeopardize your own activity, that you risk losing a client to a less scrupulous competitor?
My advice: you’ll get more benefits and clients working collaboratively than staying alone fighting for your little piece of cake.
If you’re open to new collaborations, you’ll be able to respond to calls for consultancies offering a multi-expertise and comprehensive approach. I used to see and appreciate offers including 2 or 3 other consultants with a different but complementary set of expertise: context analysis, visualization, protection, gender etc.
I especially liked offers including communication, design or GIS experts (at a reasonable rate) who greatly improve the deliverables, in substance and visually (report, presentation etc;). The client can share widely your report and it makes your expertise shine!
5. Step out of your comfort zone
You feel insecure and not confident to succeed and reach the objectives of your new consultancy? Every consultant is living with doubts, there’s nothing wrong with you (or you are not a real consultant)!
Except if you’re working in a niche market (and still), step out of your comfort zone!
This is how you will learn. You will expand your skillset, find new customers and stay up to date in a fast-paced professional world.
Self-train with online courses, follow webinars, read articles etc. Don’t forget the social medias, you will find very interesting and relevant content and experts to help you succeed in your work.
Contact your peers, partners, associates, ex-colleagues and friends to get ideas and references, they’re always have good advice to offer (usually at least).
6. Foster technological and innovation intelligence
Our sector is evolving fast with new actors, new terms, new approaches – you will hear new buzz words “innovation”, “digitalization”, or “nexus”. You can read my post about the last buzz words in our sector.
Don’t be scared and keep reading, testing new approaches and tools! This is exactly my experience when I tested and piloted new market assessment tools in the field.
I remember one colleague, a recognized evaluation expert, who told me last year “I’m receiving a great number of technical offers from consultants or firms every year: I am just tired of seeing the same methodology used for years whereas you can also use new and validated approaches”.
@ consultants, this is your role and duty to include and mainstream innovation in your work, from low tech to high tech: this is where you will make the difference. Stop copy paste the same report for the last 10 years!
7. Use new online collaborative tools for a new user experience
Use and propose new collaborative tools and approaches to your client and in your work.
You’ll find a broad offer of free, easy and ready to use tools online you can harness to turn your training, your workshops or your meetings into an innovative and inspiring experience.
You surprise, you gives ideas and you promote collaboration even remotely! And your client is happy and will recommend you!
· Miro tool will help you design collaborative dashboards – this is a very useful tool when you organize virtual meetings or workshops, which always happen at the beginning, during and at the end of your consultancy!
· Mentimeter for real time surveys to gauge your audience satisfaction and create fun quizz during meetings and workshops
· Screen-o-cast for your deliverables: design your powerpoint and record an audio for each slide – the client judges you 200% professional and you create a new user experience when people read – and LISTEN- to your powerpoint.
8. For the five star consultants
The new trend is to create your own blog and podcast- what if you become the new influencer in your domain of expertise?
You create your own space of expression, you share your ideas, your experience, you invite and promote other consultants. You organize webinars, free online courses and you create a community of practice.
You’re no more alone and never unemployed! I’m ready to help if you need any advice for the blogging part!
For those of you who want to take one step further, you can also create your own self-brand: your name becomes a website URL. I prefer on my end a brand that can leave space for collaboration and new associates and partners.
9. Explore outside of our sector and get inspired
I like to find and pick ideas from different sources, even from the private sector! Why? Because great ideas are everywhere and private sector is the cutting edge of innovation!
I am currently listening podcasts about social marketing and freelance: they give me tips and ideas for my personal branding, the key of success in your career of consultant!
And just for fun, sharing one of my favorite link today!
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