These tips are from my own experience and I tend to try to swim upstream a bit... so they aren't for everybody. In fact.. they sometimes only work for me in the long run, but they do work.
1. Get in the game.
If you want to be seen as a consultant of repute, the type that clients ask for by name, then you need to be known. That means you need to start generating some serious reputation making issues.
How can you do that? Today there are various mediums, when I started there were far fewer. Heres a few pointers...
- Post comments on popular blogs. Not promotional comments, just good ones. people notice.
- Publish articles on web sites. Many if possible, follow that with articles in magazines. (Web first, magazines second)
- Get interviewed. register as an expert on the internet sites and with media outlets. Good opinion makers are not easy to find.
- Write a book (More about this later)
- Publish your own Specialty reports and distribute that
- Write and send out your own press releases
- Start speaking for free...
2. Get good at something
Consulting is lucrative, very lucrative if you are in the top echelons. And, like anything that is lucrative, it is also competitive.
I don't really subscribe to specializing, but I do think you should be very good at something. Whether it is a technical area (like engineering, HR, or economics) or whether it is a managerial skill like presenting, sales or marketing. You need to be great at it.
3. Have a skill building hobby.
Mine is blogging. And I use the skills I learn here every single day. I have another which is writing, and I use that to promote my views, thoughts and the companies I work with.
Another small time hobby I have is learning VBA (Yes.. I'm boring) Good stuff. A good skill to pull out at odd times, but not one I will use as a principal fee generator.
4. Don't just say "yes"
Consulting is difficult. There are always lots of pressures to just give the client what she wants, or to not talk about a certain issue, or to just do what you are told.
I'm not advocating being opinionated, or difficult - but do keep a strong line of sight to your own internal moral compass. Your professionalism and technical knowledge can tell you when something is wrong. Follow that.
5. Learn to sell.
No matter what you do, if you are going to be in consulting then you must know how to sell.
Get a Saturday job selling cars, or get involved in network marketing, work with the leading salesperson in your company, or some other avenue. But whatever you do... learn to sell!
6. Do more.
Don't just work on the current project. Make time to work on an additional fee generator. A paper, a software gimmick, a course outline and design. Whatever... the more value you generate, the more clients (and employers) are going to want to have you on the payroll.