Finding work as an independent consultant (or rather the fear of not finding it) is probably the number one concern for most – especially new – freelance consultants. In fact, that fear is what stops a lot of people from becoming freelancers in the first place. And it can be tough sometimes, especially if the economy in your area/country is slow and there’s not a lot of work to be found.
But it doesn’t have to be that scary, as long as you follow some basic steps.
Recruiters & Job Boards
One of the first things I did when I quit my 9-to-5 job (back in 2007), was to sign up with and get to know a few recruiters. I also set up searches on job boards (I mainly used Seek.com). These are both great methods for finding contract work as quickly as possible, which allows you to show what you can do, build up some credibility, and make new contacts/build your network.
Depending on the type of work you do, you could outsource yourself using services like Elance, oDesk, and Freelancer. This is another great way to find work quickly, and get some runs on the board.
Today, there are even consulting marketplaces, like Expert360, and specialist services, like Essemy, that make it even easier to find consulting work.
Find Opportunities While You Work
As a consultant working in someone else’s business/company, you’ll find that you see opportunities for improvement everywhere. If you see a genuine opportunity in an area that you could help with, let someone know that you could assist. If they’re happy with your work, and they can see the value in your proposal, you could generate your next contract.
But don’t create an opportunity where there is none. Being dishonest about that, or about your abilities, just to secure some work is a sure-fire way to ruin your reputation. And as an independent consultant, your reputation is everything.
Use your network
I’ve written before about the importance of networking, especially when you don’t need to – when you’re busy working is the best time to be working on your network. That will ensure that, when you do need some help, you have a network to call on.
Don’t be afraid to ask for work by letting people know you’re available, or that you will be soon. Social media (particularly LinkedIn in my experience) is a great way to do this.
If you’ve put the work into building and maintaining your network, you’ll find that it pays you back ten-fold when you need it.
Building your network is the key to your long term success as an independent consultant.
Work Will Find You
When you’re starting out as a freelance consultant, it can be tough. Ideally you’ll have some money set aside to get you through at least six months, just in case. But even if you don’t (I didn’t, in fact I was in debt) you can still get by – you just have to try a little harder.
After some time, once you have built a reputation for good work, and built a solid network, you could be in a position where the work finds you. And I can tell you that’s a great place to be.
Have any other methods for finding work? Please share them by leaving a comment, thanks!