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Just because you know your way around technology and software, doesn’t mean you want to create it. Sometimes, the best career for an IT enthusiast can be one that involves talking to people and explaining how concepts work. Consultancy isn’t a new profession. It’s something that people have offered since the dawn of various medical and legal jobs. Yet, many people don’t realize just how many different kinds of consultants there are.

If you have a well-developed network, and you know how to talk about something in your industry, while providing useful information that other people need, you’re already on the right track. If you also happen to have an impressive portfolio filled with companies that you’ve made an impact on before, you’re even better-suited to this road.

1. Know What Consulting Means

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The first step is knowing what it means to be a consultant in your career. Essentially, this title just means that you’re an expert in a specific field. You know everything there is to know about your niche – and you know how to share your knowledge with others in a valuable way. Some of the most common kinds of professionals in this industry include those in sales, marketing, business, accounting, and law. However, you can just as easily make a lucrative career for yourself in the technology field too. Once you know what it means to be a consultant, think about what this title would mean to you as a growing professional. What do you know plenty about? Where are your areas of expertise – and how can you share those with others?

2. Come to Grips with the Reality

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There’s more to take this career path than knowing a lot about a specific topic. That is certainly a part of what you need to do, but you’ll also have to understand how to organize your time and present your skills in a way that will attract potential clients. Before you launch your website and start looking for customers, ask yourself if you’re ready to handle all the aspects of working for yourself. Can you handle things like deadlines, and are you comfortable with the idea of setting up your own billing cycle? What kind of areas will you need extra help in when you move forward?

Is it essential to hire additional people to support you as you build your business? It’s also important to make sure that you know whether you can reasonably afford to jump into a full-time change right now. Sometimes, you’ll need to start small and take on a part-time role first, so that you can continue to earn a regular wage alongside your new venture.

3. Start Building your Profile

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Here’s one of the most important things you’ll need to invest in when you become an expert in anything. Your profile or portfolio is how you share your knowledge and thought leadership with the world. You might start by designing a professional LinkedIn page where people can commend you for your work. You could also think about building a website where you show off what you do and share case studies from other customers.
It’s also worth looking into ways that you can make your portfolio more impressive. A great resume full of case studies from happy clients is a good start. However, you’ll have hard trouble attracting the right customers if you don’t have a good set of skills and certifications, to begin with.

If you don’t have the degree to prove that you’re an expert in your field, now is the time to go back to school and get it. Take out a private student loan from Earnest, and make sure that you can show off your knowledge with genuine accolades.

4. Choose Your Target Market and Understand it

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Once you know that you’ve got everything you need to make your professional image stand out, the next step is getting to know your target audience. Who do you think you’re going to be able to reach best with your services? What kind of people will respond well to the information you can offer? For instance, if you’re getting involved with AI software, then you might want to target other businesses who are creating innovative new applications in machine learning and natural language processing.

If you’re an expert in accounting software, then it makes sense to seek out financial experts who offer accounting services to clients. Once you have a good idea of who your audience might be, take some time to get to know them better. This might mean that you do some research into the reports and guides in your field. Alternatively, see what other competitors similar to you are doing to attract clients in your niche. What values and pain points do they focus on?

5. Commit to Constant Improvement

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Just because you’re an expert in your field now, doesn’t mean that you’ll stay that way forever. An unfortunate truth of the IT industry is that it’s constantly changing and evolving. On the one hand, this means that if you can stay ahead of the curve, you’ll always find people who need new advice and support in dealing with your kind of software.

Most businesses and consumers just don’t have the time or skills to keep up with the constant changes in the software field, which makes a professional like you very appealing. However, this also means that you need to be committed to constantly learning and improving if you want to remain relevant.

Sometimes, this might mean that you need to get a new certification or take a series of classes every once in a while, to focus on a new specialty. Other times, you might find that all you need to do to upgrade your skills and knowledge is to visit a local event or conference where you can hear from other people similar to you. No matter how much of an expert you think you are in your chosen space, always remember that there’s someone out there who potentially knows more than you. Commit to expanding your knowledge all the time, and you’ll never fall behind.