Selling yourself as a consultant – Three foundation pieces to make the pitch (+ one bonus)

Consulting in Ottawa can be lucrative. Consulting in Ottawa is most certainly competitive. In order to break free of the pack, you’ll need to make sure that you have all of the right pieces in place to connect, convince, and close clients. It’s hard to sell your expertise if you’re lagging behind the competition, so make sure your sales pitch has all the right stuff to land that next (or first) contract.

Plus, a bonus tip at the end to give your hunt a real boost!

Have what it takes, certified!

For those that have been employees for a long time, certifications often become “nice to have”, you know, if the company’s willing to pay for it. If they weren’t, you probably let them slide. Now may be the time to brush up on a little learning and make sure that you have the certifications recognized and expected in your field. Certifications, especially with government contracting, can be used to target (or eliminate) candidates, so be sure to have the ones that matter most.

For those of you that have the certifications packed away in a box collecting dust somewhere in your attic, find them, pull them out, and make a digital copy. Just putting it on the CV may not be enough anymore, and a digital copy is easy to share as many times as needed.

Build the Boilerplate

While your CV will need to be tailored to each client and opportunity, starting from scratch every time is not a good use of your cycles (or weekends). Take some time to plot out a good boilerplate or foundational CV that you can build upon with specific requirements, experiences, or industry details. As a consultant, don’t be afraid to go a little long, depending on the client and/or industry. I’ve seen senior consultants with anywhere from 5-6 pages up to 50+.

Knowing your audience is the key to landing that contract, but having a solid base to build your case from will give you an advantage over the competition.

Location, Location, Location Network, Network, Network!

You’ve spent years in the industry, worked hard, turned heads, impressed supervisors, mentored staff, and now it is time to make all of that pay off! Sit down and make a list, spreadsheet, or an old-school rolodex of all the people you can think of to reach out to and let know that you are now in the consulting world. Highlight the ones currently in management and decision-making roles and contact them first, but don’t take a pass on those worker bees – if they have their bosses’ ear, that might be your side door into a new contract.

Every connection is valuable. They may not pay off immediately, or ever, but as Lloyd Christmas once said, “so you’re telling me there’s a chance?” Every connection is a chance, and the more chances you have out there, the luckier you will seem to be.

Bonus: Develop “agency”

You are one voice in a giant sea of consultants trying to find that sunken treasure. Problem is, there are thousands of consultants scouring the ocean floor, and also some big sharks looming. Those sharks are Professional Services Agencies, but it doesn’t hurt to have a few of them on your side.

Now remember, at the end of the day they are a business and their goal is to make money off your work. That doesn’t make them bad, per se, but it is an important distinction. They will be looking out for themselves, just as you should be doing too.

So, don’t marry yourself to the first recruiter to reach out to you on LinkedIn. Research the companies, find out their approach to business, contracting, and clients. Ask other consultants in your field – trust me, they’ll love to spill the beans on who is reputable and who to avoid – and talk to the people that work there. Chat with the recruiters, the business development hawks, and account managers. Heck, ask to speak to the owner, if you can.

They can get your name in front of hundreds of clients almost instantly, giving you instant credibility and opportunity. Just make sure you do your due diligence first. Not all Professional Services companies are created equal.

With these few simple tricks, you’ll be able to step in front of any client with the foundation to sell yourself as a consultant, and also have a few people doing some of the sales for you!

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