Finding work as an independent professional might seem daunting at first, but there are an increasing number of resources available to help independents find projects and clients. As more people turn to independent work, technology as evolved in tandem to help match your experience and resume with the best project and client for your skillset.
While it can be great to have a lot of options to browse through when looking for a new project, it can also make it harder to find exactly what you want. Many career sites match skills to work, but just because your skills align with a job doesn’t mean it is something you are interested in doing.
Without the right preparation and research, finding the right project can be a big investment of your time and resources. But by using the right tools along with a thorough understanding of your goals, you can find the work you’re looking for without getting lost in the weeds. Follow these three tips for finding the right consulting project for your business.
1. Define the Work You Want to be Doing
Finding the right project begins by knowing what you are looking for. Start by making a list of your short- and long-term goals or revisit your business plan. Think about the type of services you provide and the audience you want to provide them to.
If you could create the ideal project to work on, what would it look like? Would it be a short project that takes a month or two, or something more long-term? Are you looking for something you can work on remotely, or would you rather work more directly with a client? Consider whether you are looking for a project that provides personal growth opportunities, or one that is more inspirational and aligns with your existing skillset.
By clearly defining the things you are looking for—and the things you aren’t looking for—you can better target your search. Additional factors to consider may be your bill rate, potential budget, or preferred timeline. Be sure to take into account any existing work in your pipeline as well.
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2. Build a Presence on an Online Marketplace
Independent contractors are increasingly finding work using online marketplaces. Marketplaces are platforms that match job opportunities with freelancers. In 2023, 24% of independents said online talent marketplaces were a top three method of finding work. A further 40% said they had used a marketplace to find work in the past 12 months, and 47% said they. Planned to do so in the next 12 months. To use a marketplace, you’ll fill out some type of profile, and then be able to search for and apply to opportunities that fit your set of skills and experience.
There are many types of marketplaces. The one you choose to use will depend on the type of work you are looking for. Some marketplaces, for instance, focus on tech jobs or management consulting. Others are company-specific like MBO’s marketplace, which can help. You find high-paying consulting jobs with Fortune 500 companies.
When using a marketplace, there are many ways to narrow down the opportunities you are matched with. Marketplaces often use algorithms, so be specific about the keywords you use to search for a job and talk about your experience. This is where your ideal project comes into play—be clear about the skills you have and factors that are important for. If you can, include a link to your professional portfolio or website on your profile so potential clients can see samples of your past work.
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3. Use Your Network to Your Advantage
Your network is another great way to find potential work and there are a variety of ways to make use of contacts you already have. For example, you might consider partnering with another small business or independent professional. Collaboration allows you to take on larger projects and offer a variety of skillsets to clients. this may open the door to a higher pay rate or a higher-value client.
If you had a great experience with a past client, reach back out to them and see if they have more working coming down their pipeline or if they’d be willing to refer you to someone looking for similar work. Try reaching out to your peers and see what type of projects they are working on—perhaps something will inspire you or you’ll make a new connection that results in a job lead.
As you build your network, be sure to keep your resume, LinkedIn profile, and professional website update. Always keep that ideal project in mind and ensure the message that you are putting out to the world matches what you are truly looking for.
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