Information Technology professionals looking to embark on a new career as independent consultants are often unaware of what it takes to make their mark and enjoy success. Making it on your own is challenging, but promises rich rewards when you do things the right way. Here is a look at some dos and don’ts for independent consultants.

Dos

1. Identify your niche : Specializing in a particular area of IT consulting is essential. Leverage your experience and seek out a niche in which you can lead. For instance, you can offer IT consultancy services exclusively to the healthcare sector, not-for-profit organizations or suppliers to government agencies. It is crucial to let people know what exactly it is that you are good at, as opposed to being a jack of all trades.

2. Network with other consultants: References are no doubt an IT consultant’s lifeblood. Take time out to network with consultants in areas of specialization other than yours. They can refer projects to you, and you can bring them on board for your projects.

3. Get out there and market effectively: Market your business by networking with vendors and actively involving with professional IBO (independent business owner) associations and regional/city businesses associations. Visit events hosted by the Chamber of Commerce where you can be introduced to new and fast growing enterprises. Post your resume on sites like Corp-Corp.com .

Don’ts

1. Take any work coming your way: It is no doubt tempting to say ‘yes’ to any work coming your way, but you will be doing this at your own peril. Don’t deviate from your specialty or you risk damaging your credibility. If you fail to deliver on a project due to your lack of specialized knowledge in that field, the word gets around and you will find it difficult to find references.

2. Ignoring business needs: Frame your services keeping real-world requirements in mind rather than doing something you really love or you are passionate about. The fact is that thinking with your heart rather than your head will not bring in any moolah. There has to be a real need in the market for what you offer.

3. Invest in a plush office at a fancy location: As an independent consultant, you will be visiting your clients, not vice versa. A comfortable home office free of distractions will be enough when you start out.

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