Consulting or contracting can be a very lucrative way of making a living if you treat your practice as a business. In Part I of this two part series I shared with you the importance of being a business owner and not a Wannabe Consultant. Let’s examine what you need to do to make sure your practice runs like a business and your pipeline is full of contracts in order to avoid long stretches of unemployment.

In order to keep your pipeline full, do the following:


Nothing says “I am serious about my business” like forming a corporation. Furthermore, employers seeking a consultant want the transition to be easy and not have to deal with any payroll issues. The best way to be viewed as a true business is to incorporate.

Do you want to work with contract staffing agencies? These firms view incorporated contractors as the real deal whereas non-incorporated professionals or sole-proprietors are viewed as newbies who are unproven and uncommitted to the consulting profession. Put on your staffing recruiter’s cap. Who would you want to work with and present to your client?

Develop raving fans

Decision makers only hire you if they trust you. Having recommendations from your previous bosses and/or previous customers about your work and posted on LinkedIn goes a long way to get the trust you need especially when the recommendation states, “I would re-hire him in an instant when the next opportunity arises.”

Having proof of being re-hired is even better and you can show it by listing the repeat business in your project history or portfolio.

Don’t just be good, be exceptional. Understand the secret of great costumer service when it comes to consulting – deliver what you promise on time and within budget. Be honest and forthright, if there is a problem don’t hide it – if you can’t fix it find someone who can and get the job done for the client.

Be likeable. If you are not likeable nobody wants to work with you. If you are difficult and always arguing with people and not willing to consider their point of view – then you won’t make friends during your assignments and subsequently won’t get referrals. It is a small world and word may get out quickly that others should forego your services.

You may know your craft as an expert but that does not mean others do, so don’t treat others like idiots just because they don’t have your level of expertise.

Make a special effort to treat junior personnel with respect and be willing to coach and train even though your contract does not call for it, these gestures will get noticed and you will be called back for future projects and recommended to other employers and colleagues.

Don’t get caught up in “gossip city” or drawn in to listening to others complain – you are there to do a job – sidestep the gossip mill politely and redirect the discussion onto getting the results because that is what you are being paid to deliver.


Focus your resources where experts say you are bound to get your  best returns and that is with existing clients, clients you have worked for in the past and of course referrals from these clients.

Jay Conrad Levinson, the marketing Guru from the Guerrilla Marketing series points out that you should spread your resources according to the 60/30/10 formula. Allocate 60% of your marketing resources towards your existing clients, past clients and getting referrals from these. 30% towards converting prospective clients – those who have shown interest in your services or are prime targets. And 10% of your marketing resources towards the broader market, that is the business world in general.

Marketing Plan

Take 8 minutes to answer the following 8 questions in 8 sentences and create your 8 sentence marketing plan. It does not have to be complicated it just has to be done. You can expand on it later.

8 sentence marketing plan

What is the purpose of your marketing?

Who are your target clients or companies?

What is your niche or speciality?

What is your sustainable competitive advantage or what sets you apart from other consultants?

What is your business identity?

What tactics and tools will you use to carry out your marketing strategy?

What is your marketing budget and how will you allocate time to carry it out?

When will you create your marketing calendar and roadmap?

Create a marketing roadmap and calendar

It is critical that you take time to market your new corporation, consider social media and direct marketing through telephone calls, marketing letters and networking letters. Take the time to create your roadmap and calendar. The roadmap is the detail of how you deliver on your plan. This requires that you set a schedule on a calendar for when you will action each marketing activity.

Online marketing, Social networking, and SEO

Make sure that you get your profiles up on the big social sites and shine the spotlight on your business. Create a LinkedIn profile and company page, as well as a Facebook fan page, Google+ profile, write a professional blog and use twitter to get your message out. To save time use an application like HootSuite to simplify and schedule your social media posts or shares. For more information on creating a professional image online (professional internet brand) and how to simplify your social media sharing and posts in order to attract new clients and land more work make sure to read Chapter 9 of The Panic Free Job Search.

Understand that being on LinkedIn only makes you part of a network. In order to reap the rewards of LinkedIn you need to practice networking. Networking is an action. Reach out and contact the people in your network. It is all about creating relationships. Take the connection and communication offline. Use the telephone or in-person meetings to build professional relationships. Remember people hire you or help you when they trust you and the quickest and best way to build that trust is through live human communication not through email or online messaging. Email can help establish a relationship but live communication solidifies it.

Identify the keywords that represent what you specialise in and use Google to get you more business. When a decision maker or recruiter seeks a consultant, they usually search on Google for the keywords that represent job title, specific skill set or designation and location. For Example, Project Manager IT, PMP, Toronto. Make sure these keywords are included throughout your LinkedIn profile and especially in your LinkedIn headline. Make sure to optimize your LinkedIn profile to get more hits and land more gigs.

Get a domain name that is keyword rich and create a website. By making sure your domain name is keyword rich this will help you in getting your website to the top of the first page of search results for those keywords in Google.

Consider using online press releases to increase your SEO and attract new clients.

Develop a partnership with head-hunters and staffing consultants

In order to forge a lasting partnership with head-hunters and with staffing consultants be prepared to recommend other solid professionals just like you who are in consulting as a business. Staffing consultants are always seeking to find the best talented professionals quickly to fill their requisitions or job orders as they are called in the biz, because their livelihood depends on it. By being a great source of referrals for staffing consultants, they will return the favour and turn to you first when a job pops up for you. A great staffing consultant can keep your pipeline full and humming for years.

Fees for service and discounting

Know what you are worth and deal with fee objections. Figure out your pricing plan for services and stick to it. You can get a great idea of what hourly rates are being offered just by following groups in LinkedIn or asking a question in one of the groups. It is always good to review your fee structure every year to make sure you are charging enough.

When objections arise about your fees focus the decision maker back on to the expected value of the output, the ROI that you will deliver and the transformation you will bring about rather than having him focus on the daily fees, the number of hours and the list of tasks that need to be accomplished. The bottom line is getting results.

Walk away from low ball offers and the promises of follow-on work if you reduce your fees. In my experience these types of decision makers make poor clients and once you give in on your fees they will be continually seeking other concessions from you. If you want to consider lowering your fees for follow on work then get a guarantee on future work in a signed contract or offer a credit after the future work is completed not before.

Bank on it

Create your easy marketing plan, engage your raving fans in person and online and by doing so you will build a thriving business you can bank your career on!

Paul Hill is a Job Search expert and the Chief Instructor at Transition to Hired and the Ultimate Job Search Boot Camp. He is also the author of The Panic Free Job Search book and can be reached through his web site at