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Article: Tip's On Using The Internet For Consultants

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Tip's On Using The Internet For Consultants.

So you want to be a Consultant!

If you don't have time to read this letter at least read the Bottom Line.

Because of cooperate downsizing and outsourcing of activities that have traditionally been conducted internally, many companies are creating an extraordinary need for consultants. The corporate mission doesn't change even though the number of employees left behind to deal with it does.

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This creates an attractive career opportunity for many individuals. Starting a consulting business requires a minimal capital investment and, as a result, often involves less up-front financial risk than other small businesses.

Consultants have more control of their destinies. There is no requirement to retire at a specified age, and under the right circumstances, consulting can provide an attractive income. A consulting career can enable you to utilize the skills you have developed throughout your business life.

The Internet is a particularly useful tool for those of you who are consultants or aspire to be a consultant. This paper assumes you have in depth knowledge and expertise in a unique field that companies and or organizations will require assistance with from time to time. Often this area of expertise is one that a company/organization does not have need for on a full time basis and prefers to sub contract out the needed service occasionally or on a reoccurring basis.

The reasons for becoming a consultant are many. Perhaps you were laid off or are worried about being laid off in the near future. You may be looking for a way to augment your regular job's salary or you may just want to build a new career doing something that you enjoy. Whatever the reason, the Internet can be a great business tool that will assist you towards your goal.

The Internet will provide you a means to explain your services, detail your qualifications and provide insight into who you are. For many companies and organizations before they will enter into a business relationship, even on a limited basis, they like to know as much about you as they can. The key here is to provide them with a professional and polished "first impression" of you. In the "Old Days," before the Internet, that meant color brochures, which were difficult and expensive to produce and even more difficult to get into the hands of the right person(s).

In the information age we have many more way's to distribute your brochure (now read web site) with the information about you and your services. With your own web site you can present yourself as a polished professional and detail your credentials and qualifications in an easy to access and read format.

That said, you still have to get this information into the right hands. Like the "Old Days," you still have to work hard at distributing your brochure. However, today you have a few more tools in your toolbox. As before, you still need to market your self in the real world.

For those of you who will need to consult locally (within commuting distance) where your services need to be provided in person, there are some tried and true methods:

Add your web site's address to your business cards, business stationary and as a digital signature at the bottom of all your outgoing e-mail's.

If you advertise locally (real world radio, newspapers etc.), be sure and reference your web site which will provide in depth detailed information.

For those of you who can provide your consulting services using the information superhighway, that is by e-mail, telephone (video conferencing), online chat rooms, Fax, and of course, snail mail, and thus are not limited geographically. You have additional tools available to you, in addition to the above, and that is your ability to reach virtually anyone in the world. Here are just a few:

Cultivate reciprocal links with other web sites that have a logical relation to your service. (Not competitors, but organizations, trade associations and online journals or magazines related to your field.)

If your dog trainer get links with organizations such as the Association of Dog Lovers (I'm sure several exist.) or advertise in the various "Dog Lovers" news groups and discussion boards and forums that will be in many places on the Internet. These resources are relatively inexpensive to advertise in but do allow you to target people interested in your type of service and who are "Net Savvy." These people will appreciate your abilities just that much more as they will realize that you are "Net Savvy" as well.

The narrower you define your services the better you will turn up in the search engines. Your page will need to be designed specifically for that service. Not a broad "net" trying to catch any web surfer you can. But just only those web surfers who have an interest in the specific service you are trying to fill. You do not want web surfers who are not interested in your service, as they will only waste your time (and theirs) and your resources.

Patience is the watchword.

A web site is not like the movie; "If you build it they will come". It takes months before your web address is added to all the major "Free" search engines. Especially, these days. The search engines are being inundated with ten's of thousands of submissions, each day, to their databases.

Don't rely on those web sites that promise to place you at the top of the search engines. Believe me they can't. Those Mega submission services that will list you with 200, 300 or even 500+ search engines will in the end cause you more grief than you bargained for, because you must provide a valid email address (or your listing will be wasted). The problem is that 90% of these sites are nothing more than a "Free Links Page", with the sole purpose of getting your email address for spamming. My own experience with these services resulted in me getting as many as 200 Spam e-mail's a day, all wanting to tell me about a service or product and to thank me for my submission. If that was not enough, they kept thanking me and thanking me. . . for months with additional product suggestions.

Nothing beats you, the web site owner, taking an active role in marketing your web site. Marketing your web site is easier than what the "Big Guys" have to do. They have to support dozens, if not hundreds of key words. While you only have to market those few key words specific to your specific service. Your ability to focus your marketing will help with equalizing the playing field with the "Big Guy's" who are marketing without focus.

For more information about marketing your web site go here, where I share my thoughts on marketing in today's post DOT.com "Bust" period: The "Mature" Internet.

Lastly, and most important! Look at your venture as an investment in your future not a "get rich quick" scheme. Remember the successful businesses loose money for a year or more before they are able to get on top. Look at Amazon.com, it took them years before they had a profitable quarter. Yet few doubted they would be a success. You too can be a success if you approach the Internet as a long-term business opportunity.

Thurman Ray Plumlee
Thurman "Ray" Plumlee
The Web Helper

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