The world we’re living in has been turned upside down in what seems like a flash. Things that were not seen as a priority by many not too long ago, like IT integration, now play a central role in virtually all businesses.
Businesses that were stuck in the past no longer have the choice to adopt new technologies and that comes with a variety of challenges. Many business owners might have difficulty integrating technology in their business in a safe way, and some may have to beef up their infrastructure to face new needs and ways of working. This is why the work of consultants will be essential and in high demand in the next few years. Here’s how you can start a career in IT consulting.
Get the Qualifications Needed
Anyone can call themselves a consultant, and some may even be able to get a job these days, but you will probably need to get the qualifications needed if you don’t already.
In this case, you will need at least a bachelor’s degree, but this will still not be enough for you to have the expertise needed to deal with the wide range of issues businesses may have to face. If you are coming in fresh or already have a bachelors, then you will have to consider getting a master’s in computer science as well.
We would suggest that you get some experience under your belt working in the field and get your credentials while you work. The best way to do that would be to get a masters in computer science online. Make sure that you get it from an accredited school with a good reputation if you want to get the best level of education possible.
Having a masters will make you more credible and easier for you to get gigs. Not only that, but you’ll be much savvier, and you won’t have to delegate as much. This will impress clients and help you build your brand.
Get Work Experience
If you want to work with a consulting firm, then most of them will require that you have at least 5 years of working experience under your belt. So, you will have no choice but to get some hours in if you want to get a chance, though some might consider you if you can demonstrate exceptional skill or expertise.
You need to have worked directly with technology systems or computer networks to be considered. Entrepreneurial, advisory, and managerial experience could also help you qualify for and be successful as an IT consultant.
Build an Online Presence
If you decide to go the independent route, however, you will have to prove your expertise in another way. In this case, you will need to build an online presence.
The first thing you should do is establish a content marketing strategy. Your most powerful tool here will be a blog and many consultants have been able to build most of their clientele through their blog and referrals.
What makes a blog powerful is that it allows you to truly showcase your skill and become a valuable resource. Once people have realized how much value you have to offer, they are more likely to hire you. Another great thing about a blog is that it allows you to attract people organically to you through search engines.
A blog coupled with a solid inbound marketing strategy could be all that you need to start getting steady work, and it doesn’t require a big investment from you in the beginning. You’ll also be able to keep attracting traffic to you organically without constantly pumping money into the machine.
Social media will also be very important here, but you have to choose the right outlets. LinkedIn and Twitter are usually the best for consultants. LinkedIn is great if you want to release content targeted at your main audience. You will also be able to answer questions there and show your expertise that way.
Twitter can be used to curate content that might interest your audience, advertise upcoming events, or build traction for your blog. We would also suggest that you look at other tools such as podcasting and use your social media to promote it as well.
Be Ready to Work for Free
You also have to be ready to do a lot of pro-bono work at the beginning if you want to be able to build a name. Most independent consultants will start doing work for free so they can get referrals and testimonials.
Social proof is everything in this business, and having a few people vouching for you at the beginning will be very important if you want to build trust and show the results of your work. Once you have a few referrals and testimonials, you’ll be able to convert at a much higher rate. View these first free gigs as an investment and a way to gain valuable experience.
Set Up Your Business
Working as an independent consultant also means that you will need to get the paperwork necessary and officially start your business. Many consultants decide to work as sole proprietors, but you could also go for an LLC. We would also suggest that you sit down with an attorney who’ll be able to tell which one is the best option between the two. They will also be able to help you deal with things such as contracts and how to avoid liability issues.
Speaking of which, you will also need to start looking at consultant insurance. Having consultant insurance will show the people you work with that you are serious about protecting your business and their information. Some clients may also require that you show other insurance, like liability coverage or errors and omission insurance that will cover them if you end up causing damage or making errors that could end up impacting them financially.
If you wanted to start a career as an IT consultant, this is what you need to prepare for. Make sure that you have the expertise and skills necessary, and do the work needed to get a steady stream of clients.