How to Stand Out as an Independent Consultant

1. Focus on a specialization.

We all know how the saying goes: “Jack of all trades, master of none.” Some independent consultants instinctively gravitate towards accepting any and all projects that fall within their skill set; it seems intuitive to keep things as broad as possible in an effort to capture more business. However, those who specialize in a particular area can charge higher rates, generate more demand, and have an easier time distinguishing themselves from competitors. Try to choose a subject matter expertise within one specific technology, like SAP or Workday, or focus on a functional role, such as project or program management.

2. Build your image.

Once you become an independent consultant, you are your own brand. Social networking sites like LinkedIn and Twitter are excellent tools to create a positive image. However, to make yourself really stand out, try to find ways to highlight your unique skills and experience in your online profiles. Your work history is your biggest bragging right and the best way to prove your abilities to prospective clients. Make sure it gets the spotlight it deserves.

Remember that in the digital age, your social media presence is often your first impression on prospective employers and clients. The image you project online should be polished and organized, just like your work.

3. Network effectively.

In an age when referrals rule all, effective networking will make or break an independent consultant’s ability to stand out. Working alone can become isolating very quickly, so make an effort to connect with the industry at least once per week, even if it’s as simple as getting coffee with a former colleague or asking for an introduction to someone new. Never underestimate the value of preparation; before any networking meetup, take some time to prepare a list of discussion points in order to keep the conversation flowing. By keeping relationships current, you’ll increase your chances of getting a call the next time a need arises for your area of expertise.

4. Always be prepared.

As an independent consultant, you are responsible for making your own sales. Before meeting to discuss a potential project, do your homework. Take some time to research the company and get a thorough understanding of its history, strategy, and goals. Walking into initial talks with a solid grasp of the client’s needs before they’ve even been explained will really make you stand out as an independent consultant.

5. Stay up to date.

Keeping current with industry trends is essential for any independent consultant who wishes to stand out. Take a few minutes every day to read publications such as CIO or Business Insiderand consider joining a professional group like ASUG for access to educational materials and events. Your superior knowledge of up-to-date information and best practices will give you a competitive edge over others in your field.

6. Keep it professional.

Not every project ends well. Poor communication, difficult clients, and clashing personalities can all lead to situations beyond your control. Take care to never burn any bridges, no matter how negative the outcome of a project. You’ll stand out for your ability to stay professionally poised despite the circumstances.

7. Use Bench SME.

We’ve given you a list of great ways to stand out as an independent consultant, but the best way to attract new clients is to join Bench SME, the platform that connects independent consultants to available projects. Our Consultant Success Managers are available to help you create a profile that highlights your unique skills and experience to make sure you’re selected for the projects that fall within your area of expertise. We’re happy to help you create and project a positive image that attracts prospective clients.

What are you waiting for? Sign up now and complete your Bench SME profile to start getting hired.

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