As a new consultant, your first engagement has huge implications. Once you win that initial piece of business, it legitimizes your offerings – and gives you both confidence and momentum (not to mention revenue). But getting there can be a challenge. To help you, here are a few tips to remember:
Leverage Your Network
To generate your first project or perhaps even more, reach out to those in your network and simply ask: “If you know anyone who needs consulting services like mine, would you mind introducing me?” Feel like your network is a little sparse? You probably know more people than you think. For instance, be sure to:
• Contact your connections from prior jobs, including colleagues, partners, and supervisors.
• Connect with your alumni association, old professors, classmates, fraternity brothers or sorority sisters, and fellow club members.
• Reach out to your contacts in civic organizations and trade associations, as well as those vertical groups connected to your industry, or functional groups related to your field.
Go Back to College
Colleges are communities with many opportunities to network. So get involved with your local one. Join a board, become an adjunct professor, or offer to be a guest lecturer in a graduate class related to your area of expertise. The college will likely welcome you with open arms, and you’ll get plenty of exposure as a result.
Don’t Underprice Just to Win the Work
You may feel you need to undercharge to win that first client before you can start charging what you’re really worth. By doing so, though, not only are you hurting your own financial situation, but the client will also come to expect that reduced rate, compromising the relationship in the future.
Don’t Move Too Fast
Once most clients are in the market for a consultant, they’re looking for immediate answers. But don’t let your desire to satisfy a client’s needs lead you to offer half-baked or off-the-cuff solutions. Instead, take the time to ask thoughtful questions to get to the root of the problem, so you can then offer the best solution.
You may be able to win your first few engagements through your network. But keep in mind that in consulting, a successful practice starts and ends with results. Deliver good ones and it will bear fruit in the form of more clients and engagements.