Finding clients is your next challenge. That's where trade organizations such as the NACCB and ICCA can help. NACCB member companies, for example, act as agents to secure jobs for independent consultants. Agencies' contacts can lead to contracts independents might otherwise never hear of. A good agency can also help you understand the corporate culture of a particular client.
"To find a good agent, interview people," Steiner says. You can do this over the phone or in person. "A good agency will want to know your technical skills and should ask about your career goals."
Once you've registered with an agency, be upfront: Tell your agent how much money you want to make on a particular job. They will tack their fee on top.
If you prefer not to use an agency, you'll have to advertise and network to get your name out there. ICCA is one networking resource. "By becoming active in your local chapter, people will tell you about clients who are looking for consultants with particular specialties," Handler says.
ICCA members can list their companies and specialization on the association's Web site (http://www.icca.org ). Most ICCA chapters also run referral services.
Placing ads in the newspaper and Yellow Pages will generate plenty of calls but probably not much in the way of solid business leads, says Janet Ruhl in The Computer Consultants Guide (Wiley & Sons). If you go this route, carefully tailor ads to your target audience.
Consultants who specialize should consider advertising in industry publications. For example, if your focus is accounting software and systems, ads placed in magazines such as National Public Accountant or Internal Auditor might generate business. Detroit-based reference publisher Gale Research puts out a hard-cover and online edition of the Consulting and Consulting Organizations Directory. It's updated annually in August, and the deadline to submit a free listing is in April. To submit your company profile via the Internet, visit http://www.interlog.com/~ndallen/
Establishing a Web page is another excellent way to advertise, says ICCA's Handler. And don't forget to register your page with all of the search engines on the Internet. (See "Nothing But Net" on page 70 for more information.)