How independent consultants shoot themselves in the foot

Many independent consultants spend a significant amount of time marketing themselves and in sales calls.  Some are die-hard independents, others are spending time between full-time positions.  Whether you’re a die-hard or pop into independent consulting when you make a transition, you’re probably shooting yourself in the foot.  How?  You’re wasting time by not creating a continuous online brand for yourself, independent of what company you might work for during certain periods or what consulting firms you may attach yourself to for co-marketing reasons or for additional work.

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Here’s the typical life of an independent consultant:

  • Work for a company in a particular industry
  • Get some seniority – move to another company in the industry at a higher position
  • Go into consulting independently due to a reorganization
  • Get hired for 6 months to fill in as a (sales manager, CFO, VP of product development, etc.)
  • Back to independent consulting
  • Join a group of peers and form a Consulting Agency for joint marketing purposes
  • Back to consulting on your own

Each foray into independent consulting leaves you with a resume and your most recent work experiences but what you don’t have is continuity and branding ready-to-go.  With a meaningful domain name (e.g. your name) and a Website that captures your accomplishments, thought leadership, client engagements, testimonials and more, each independent consulting period (whether short term or long term) will be much more productive.  Don’t wait until the last minute to start thinking about this.   If there’s any chance you may need to become an independent consulting, I would recommend the following:

  • Get a domain name – your name is ideal
  • Get some business cards that you can use when independent consulting or when you meet people that are not related to your current job
  • Create a nice looking Web site (use a Content Management System such as WordPress or Joomla if you have some time on your hands) or hire someone to set this up; once in place, it’s easy to update on an ongoing basis vs. a typical HTML site
  • Maintain this site on an ongoing basis.  If this causes any problems with a current employer, you can always pause some content (if you use a Content Management System) until you’re ready to put it back up again.

How to choose your “namesake” domain name:

  • Search for your name on Google – see what comes up.  Try some variations (e.g. full middle name, with middle initial, Thomas vs. Tom, etc.)
  • Decide which name has less competition in terms of coming up in search results.  If you and a famous person or authority have the same name, you’ll have trouble cutting through the crowd and may need to add your middle name, etc. to cut through.
  • Decide which name you will go with online.  Check a registrar such as GoDaddy.com, BlueHost.com, Register.com or NetworkSolutions.com.   If it’s available, buy it for several years.  If not, go back to step 1 above and try a different name.
  • Plan out a site that will continuously house all of your key works, articles, videos, projects delivered, testimonials, resumes, etc.  Anything that will help you sell business or prove yourself when you’re talking with a prospective client or employer.
  • Have a professional-looking site developed based on a flexible content management system (so you can keep it updated inexpensively and easily)

This strategy has a lot of advantages

  • You can always have one set of business cards that have this domain name on it and your permanent contact information no matter where you work
  • This domain name is easy to remember (for you and for your contacts) and it can always point them to your current place of work if needed
  • You can keep building on one site versus changing sites as you change alliances or companies
  • You establish a brand online using your real name
  • With the content you develop and the longevity of your site, you’ll gain search engine ranking in your areas of expertise
  • People will always be able to find you via this site and email address

I hope you can see the tremendous advantages this has for an independent consultant.

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