The life of a consultant can be a good one. It can also be scary.
It’s scary when things are slow and you’re wondering where your next client will come from. Sometimes you can get clients fairly quickly; other times it feels like you’re never going to get another client at all.
Almost all of us have been there. It doesn’t have anything to do with whether you’re good at what you do or not. Sometimes it’s timing; sometimes it’s the market. It is what it is.
That’s what makes consulting risky. The possibility of making good money has to be weighed against those times when you might have a long gap. That’s why consultants charge what they do; it’s not only for their expertise, but for their security while they work on getting that next contract.
In that vein the 3 things offered here might give you some support. Each one is actionable in a different way, yet each is critical to progress in some fashion. You ready? Let’s go:
1. Work your network.
Hopefully you have a network of people you can talk to when things get slow. It’s a good time to connect with them to see what’s going on and to let them know you’re still around if you haven’t talked to them in a while. It also helps because they might know of someone that needs what you offer but they hadn’t thought of you until you reached out to them.
2. Plan your moves.
This is a biggie because most people don’t do it, including consultants. We can get trapped in the mode of “I need something now” and thus we’re all over the place.
Plans do multiple things for you.
One, it helps you focus. You might be forgetting things that have worked before or still doing things you know don’t work.
Two, it helps you figure out which actions to take. Sometimes when you’re frustrated in trying to get your next client you might just sit around waiting for a phone call that probably isn’t coming. Doing something positive, even if it’s not always directly related to getting new business, can sometimes bring great rewards.
Three, it might help you figure out other ways to create income while you’re looking for your next main contract. One thing about being an independent consultant is you probably have multiple skills you haven’t thought of before. Many people can write, and there’s always some money to be made doing that. Maybe you have some technical skills and know of someone who can use them. Who knows, you might even fall into something that’ll help tide things over for a while.
3. Be calm; have courage.
This one is toughest because it’s purely mental. When money is only going one way, or you can see the end of your existing cash on hand coming fast, it’s hard to focus because negative energy takes over.
This is when you have to be mentally strongest, stick to your plan, do your networking, and find ways to calm down and do some regular things every once in a while. Some of us are wired to work 24/7 even when we have a contract; during this period, you really need time to chill.
What other things can you think of that can help you on your journey to your next client?