How to get consulting clients fast
Let’s get one thing straight, consulting is not for the faint of heart.
You sell one thing, and that’s knowledge. You need to know your stuff. Otherwise, clients won’t trust you.
If clients don’t trust you as an expert in your field, they won’t refer to their friends, colleagues, and acquaintances.
Consulting can also be rewarding both financially and career-wise. You help people and businesses solve problems.
You get to see the smile on their faces when they succeed. They write you big, fat checks. They open their networks to you. Success is no longer a pipe dream.
By some estimates, the global management consulting market topped 139 billion U.S dollars in 2017. That’s just management.
That’s where the likes of Ernst & Young, Deloitte, McKinsey, KPMG, Booz Allen Hamilton, Accenture and others mostly operate.
You can join one of them of course. You lose some of the freedom and latitude that comes with running your own thing. But in turn, you get the clients in place, a fat paycheck if you crack the code and a chance to climb the corporate ladder.
Not such a bad deal, eh?
If you are here, chances are that you want to go freelance.
You are a casual capitalist who wants to help other people with what you know. You want to run your own show whether full time or as a side-hustle. And you need to get consulting clients fast.
So how to you do it? By the following these simple tips:
- Plan early to succeed
- Network like crazy
- Pick and target a specific niche
- Know your ideal client
- Be the expert (and get known as one!)
- Google is your friend – fire up the search
- Consult for your current boss on the side
Now, let’s get into the juicy details.
Lay out your plans early
Getting consulting clients won’t happen overnight. Nothing ever does. You don’t just wake up one day and decide, “Today I’ll climb Everest.” Instead, you plan. You save. You get in shape and research. Then you climb the mountain and conquer it.
It’s the same principle with consulting. If you want to get consulting clients fast, plan early.
To quote Ben Franklin:
‘If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!’
Some of the things to get in order before your embark on your consulting journey include the following.
Get your finances in order. If budgets, savings, reserve cash sound like Latin to you, start learning. Consulting and freelancing share that one risk. Clients can dry up. Businesses and individuals go through rough financial patches all the time.
Save up an emergency fund for when the bad stuff hits the fan either in your consulting business or your personal life. Life throws us curve balls all the time. A 6 – 12-month emergency fund is an excellent place to start. Keep a similar but separate fund for your consulting practice.
Prepare yourself psychologically. The consulting world is full of challenges. Sometimes a client won’t like your proposal. Prepare to get lots of “NO’s” from prospective and ongoing clients. Be ready to tell a client as it is and stick to your guns. If they don’t like it, that’s up to them.
You can choose to sugarcoat stuff, but is a recipe for disaster for you and the client.
Expand your network
Networks are how to get consulting clients fast. Build them.
Expand your network daily. I know some freelancers fear networking. Get that fear out of your mind. Networking isn’t tricky or sleazy. It’s about connecting, finding mutual interests and ways you can help each other.
If your LinkedIn and Facebook profiles haven’t seen an update in years. Dust them up and spruce them. Consulting is a relationship business. You get into a business relationship with your clients to help them solve a problem.
Network tirelessly with colleagues, your current, and past bosses, suppliers, clients, etc.
Some of your best consulting clients will come from your networks. In fact, chances are that your current job, spouse, side hustle, etc., was the result of your network. It’s the same principle if you want to get consulting clients fast.
Attend networking events and conferences in your field. This is a great way to gauge problems, opportunities and meet prospective clients.
Pick and target a specific niche
Consulting is about selling knowledge and expertise. You don’t go to the general practitioner to fix your sticky problem. You pick the best expert in the field. Most of your potential clients already know what the problem is. They need a solution, (and one that works).
You can’t be everything to everyone. If you try that, you can kiss success goodbye. Worse still, clients won’t trust you. Picking a niche doesn’t have to be difficult. Ask yourself some fundamental questions.
- What am I good at?
- What am I passionate about?
- What problems do I want to solve?
- What problems exist in my current industry?
- What are the pain points and opportunities in my area of specialty?
- What solutions can I provide?
- How can I improve the lives and businesses of my clients?
- Is this something they’d pay for?
- What sort of competition exists in the market?
Consider those questions carefully to narrow down on a niche and determine your ideal client.
Know your ideal client
Beggars can’t be choosers. Sometimes you’ll end up with less than ideal clients to pay the bills. However, to get good consulting clients fast, you need to understand and focus on the best possible fit. These are people and businesses whose problems you can competently solve.
These clients will likely recommend you to their friends and introduce you to their networks.
Take a pen and write down the qualities, features, and characteristics of your ideal consulting clients.
- Where are they?
- Where do they hang out?
- What do they read?
- What are their worries, hopes, and dreams?
- How deep are their pockets?
- Which problems plague them?
- Are they small businesses or individuals?
- Why would they require your services?
- How much can they afford to pay?
List anything that can help you narrow down on your most ideal client. It’ll save you time and help you create the best pitch. It also narrows down the search field. Efficiency is the name of the game in the consulting arena.
The internet is your friend
Not all your consulting clients will come from your networks. Sometimes you just have to fire up the computer and get searching. Luck is on your side. According to one Accenture survey, 85% of business executives planned on using freelancers in 2017. Another one by MBO Partners concluded that 20% of professional freelancers make more than $100000/year.
We’ve covered some of the top gig economy platforms. Apart from ride-sharing, home sharing, and on-demand work apps, the bulk of the gig economy is made up of knowledge workers. These are professionals with high levels of expertise in their fields who choose to work as independent consultants.
An independent consultant typically works on a contract basis. They perform in “higher level” areas like planning, strategy, advisory, etc. In the US, a freelance contractor is typically a 1099 worker instead of a W-2 employee.
You can get consulting clients fast from the usual gig economy platforms. Think Upwork, Hubstaff Talent, Freelancer, etc. However, if you plan on utilizing your professional expertise in a more advanced capacity, expand your search.
Some of the work that independent consultants do include:
- Business analysis
- Market research
- Grants administration
- Marketing strategy
- Project management
- Technical engineering manager
- Talent sourcing consulting
- Competitive analysis
- Quality assurance experts
- Company valuations
While it’s possible to get consulting clients from the popular gig economy platforms, the pros should target specialist platforms. Some of these include:
Expert360 – This is a talent marketplace that places independent consultants in lucrative roles with top companies. The areas of expertise consist of business strategy, marketing, technology advisory, etc.
Expert360’s clients handle the payments. The platform charges a 15-20% placement fee which is dealt with by the client and not deducted from the freelancer’s cut.
Talmix – This is a platform that connects experienced advisors with exciting consulting projects. The marketplace looks for a variety of quality indicators including client testimonials, a record of results, etc.
Some of the top consulting clients on the platform include Pfizer, Staples among others.
Flexy – Flexy is a closed community and job board for independent consulting professionals in fields like IT, management, etc.
While the platform charges a 10% booking fee for successful matches, it does offer administrative tools to help you manage your independent consulting clients.
Credo – Credo specializes in marketing consulting. Possible areas include social media, technical SEO, link building, etc. Freelance consulting marketers will find a large selection of opportunities suited to their skill set.
The platform charges the consultant an annual fee to appear on the platform as a specialist.
Blumatter – Blumatter connects you with consulting clients in “micro-industries.” This includes areas like digital transformation, mergers, and acquisition, market research, etc.
The platform charges a percentage based service fee to you as the consultant, but the amount isn’t evident.
LocalSolo – LocalSolo offers a wide selection of gigs for freelancers, not just independent consultants. It provides an excellent platform for consultants to profile their experience to companies and clients that need them.
No fees get charged to you as the consultant. You are free to negotiate rates with the potential company.
Other platforms you can get consulting clients fast online include:
Be the expert & get consulting clients fast
Remember that consulting is about selling knowledge. That is the sole deliverable in most cases. You can’t bullshit your way through that.
Being an expert requires that you understand your field. It’s also a matter of perception.
Read a lot about your field or niche.
Write a book and blog about your field. If you look at the big consulting firms, they regularly put out in-depth articles about the problems they solve. Learn from them. You can read The McKinsey Way by Ethan Rasiel to get some insights.
Writing also helps you go in-depth into the problems. And possibly come up with novel solutions.
Attend networking events and conferences and share your expertise. These are some of the best grounds to demonstrate your know-how and get consulting clients fast.
Don’t ignore social media. Remember that expertise is also a matter of perception. And what better place to spout your abilities and network than social media.
Move with the times. Sometimes you need to rebrand and refocus. New knowledge comes out every day. If you’re left behind, then you can’t provide valuable insight to your clients.
Consult for your current boss
Charity begins at home as the popular proverb goes. Your current boss can turn into your first consulting client. You already understand them. You know the business and its problems. Most importantly, the boss already trust you. (Otherwise, you wouldn’t be working with them.)
Approach the situation strategically and identify the specific problem you intend to solve.
If your heart is set on going in business for yourself, drop the employee mentality and put on your business thinking cap.
The last thing you want is to walk into your boss’ office with a half-baked idea. You might not get fired, but any trust they had in you is toast. And as we’ve repeated, consulting is about trust and relationships.
Despite the challenges, consulting can be a rewarding career. You get to change your client’s lives positively. You build wonderful relationships with them, and that opens doors to other opportunities.
Ultimately, it’s not just about reading about “how to’s”, it’s about getting down, rolling up your sleeves and doing the work. You learn more from doing and gain valuable experience in the process.
Please also let us know in the comments below how you have gotten consulting clients fast or any platforms you’d recommend to the community.