As an independent consultant, marketing yourself is the key to building a successful business. Not only do you have to be an expert in your field, but you need to be able to differentiate yourself amongst other consultants. This requires a strategic and thoughtful approach to your marketing that leverages your strengths and establishes your credibility.
Whether you’re just starting out or looking to expand your opportunities, there are best practices you can use to promote not only yourself, but your services, and establish your brand and value proposition both online and in-person.
Here are what we think are the top 10 ways to market yourself as an independent consultant to help differentiate you from others:
1. Create a LinkedIn profile
LinkedIn is a powerful and very influential social media platform. LinkedIn is used for networking and building your brand, for companies and individuals to help establish your professional presence online.
As an independent consultant, your LinkedIn profile can be your online billboard, helping build your brand as well as your online resume. Your profile is for highlighting your experience, achievements, and all relevant expertise in your field. Use keywords and phrases that have to do with your industry and target audience. You should post regularly and engage with other professionals to boost your rankings and attract potential clients. You can also join professional groups to expand your network.
Be sure to use a professional headshot and create a compelling summary that touches on your unique value proposition and what you can offer as an independent consultant.
As a member of Hilltop Partner Network, you have an entire membership to leverage and connected with to expand your reach on LinkedIn. Start connecting with other trusted members and watch your online presence grow.
2. Create a profile
As a consultant, an important factor in winning consulting opportunities is the ability to communicate your skills, knowledge, and experience to potential clients. Creating a professional profile of your work will help demonstrate your expertise. It’s important to focus on your niche and target specific jobs or opportunities, instead of being too vague or broad with what you can provide. By specializing in a particular area, you can set yourself apart from the competition and become a go-to resource for clients in your industry.
Tailor your marketing efforts, including your profile, to your target audience and ideal client and focus on providing solutions to their specific challenges will have you always engaged in a role that you want.
HPN has developed a specific professional profile standard that has proven successful in showcasing our member’s consulting value to potential customers. When you join HPN, our specialists will guide you and provide a list of everything that you will need in your profile, as well as proofreading and editing to make you always sound and look your best to match with the perfect opportunities for you.
3. Produce business cards
Business cards are an essential marketing tool for independent consultants. They provide a material and physical way for people to remember you and contact you later. Every in-person encounter is a great opportunity to connect and having a business card on-hand is a quick and easy way to continue that connection afterwards.
Your business cards should include your name, contact information, and a brief description of the services you offer. A great addition to your business cards would be including your social media profile or website URLs to encourage people to connect with you.
While digital marketing is essential, traditional marketing isn’t going away. If you’d like to bring your business cards into 2023, HPN has been trying an NFC (near field communication) business card that has a smart chip and can connect with the Bluetooth on someone’s smart phone, so they automatically have all your details with just a tap. If you’re interested in getting an NFC as well, HPN can point you in the right direction.
4. Attend Networking Events
Attending networking events is a great way to meet and connect with other professionals in your industry and your area. Always be ready with a business card and an elevator pitch. An elevator pitch is a brief way of introducing yourself, getting across a key point or two about what you can offer and making a connection with someone.
Look for conferences, local business events, new openings, and any other networking events that make sense for your services. When you are travelling, take time to attend events in other cities to grow your network outside your own region.
HPN offers in-person member events throughout Canada, in an effort to meet up with others in the network as well as virtual meetups throughout the year. As part of the network, you can request a networking event in your city by emailing email@example.com.
5. Build a website
In addition to your LinkedIn profile, having a website can help establish your presence and showcase your expertise. This is especially helpful if you’re trying to grow into more than a one-person operation.
A website is a valuable tool for showcasing your brand. Your website should include information about your services, background and experience, testimonials from happy clients, and ways to get in contact with you. Use high-quality imagery, clear and concise language, and relevant information about your industry and offerings.
It’s important that your website is easy to navigate and optimized for search engines so finding you is an effortless experience for potential clients. Also, consider adding a blog or resource section to share think pieces and helpful tips but make sure you can commit to keeping your content fresh. This will help boost your search engine optimization as well.
If you are a member of Hilltop Partner Network, include the HPN Trusted Member logo on your website. Having access to that logo is one of the benefits of membership, and helps you demonstrate your participation in the network.
6. Publish thought leadership content
Creating unique content is a positive way to build your personal brand and enhance your writing skills. Publishing blog posts, articles, case studies, or other content can help establish yourself as the expert you are in your field and attract potential customers and help connect you with other industry experts.
Make sure your content is well-written, informative, crafted for a specific topic, and relevant to your target audience. Using keywords and search engine optimizations (SEO) techniques to make your content more discoverable online, and if you have a website, it will boost your page views.
If you’re already a member of the network, HPN is always looking for great blog contributions from consultants. If you have content that is ready to go with tips or tricks about your industry or being a consultant, reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
7. Offer free consultations
Offering free consultations is a powerful way to build relationships with potential clients and demonstrate the value that you provide as an independent consultant. By offering a peek into your services with your expertise and insights, you can build trust and establish yourself as a credible source that potential clients can rely on.
If available, try to provide the potential client with free additional resources after the consultation. This will make sure they see you as an expert that can provide valuable information they can use.
Be sure to follow up on all your consultations to see if they are interested in working with you. Sending your professional profile that HPN helped you create or additional resources to the potential client afterward will give them a nice reminder of what you can offer.
8. Leverage testimonials
Testimonials from happy and satisfied clients can be a very powerful tool for you and your business. Testimonials can be displayed on social media and websites to back up your experience and is a great marketing practice.
Ask your clients for their feedback in written or video form and permission to use their testimonials in your marketing materials. The more positive testimonials you can gather, the easier it is for potential and future clients to build trust with you and your work.
Make it a habit to ask for a testimonial after every project is completed. Hilltop Partner Network has developed an email to routinely send out to garner more feedback, so try drafting up a template you could use again and again.
9. Ask for referrals
Word of mouth is a very influential way to market yourself. The more you network and connect, the more people will talk about what you can offer and talk to prospective clients about you. You should also ask your current clients to refer you to their colleagues as well.
Offer referral discounts or other incentives to encourage people to refer new clients to you like a finder’s fee or give the person that referred you a gift, such as taking them out to dinner.
At HPN, members can register opportunities they know of and refer other members to that opportunity as a good fit. These referrals help build good will with your own network and your clients, as well as providing a new revenue stream for you.
10. Develop a strong brand identity
Your brand is the foundation of your marketing strategy. It should be consistent across all your physical and virtual efforts, including your social media profiles, portfolio, business cards.
Think of how you want to stand out and come across to clients and colleagues. A visual identity with a logo, colour scheme, and font should reflect your personality and the services you provide. Having these things will make creating content and materials flow easier and stay on-brand all the time.
Marketing yourself requires an integrated approach, including establishing your brand, having a strong online presence, creating marketing materials, finding new clients, and networking with other professionals in your industry.
By following our 10 strategies outlined above, you can increase your visibility, build your network, and attract more clients for your business. Remember to always stay true to your brand and focus on providing excellent service. Effective marketing is not a one-time effort, but an ongoing process that requires consistent effort.
Not sure how to start marketing yourself as an Independent Consultant in the network? Check out the Hub for marketing materials you can use.
Ready to join the network? Check out the benefits of being a member and apply here.
Sara is the Marketing Specialist at Hilltop Partner Network. She contributes to the email program, social media, content creation, and member engagement. With nearly a decade of experience in marketing and communications, Sara is committed to inspired storytelling and has written extensively across several industries. In her spare time, Sara loves to read or you can find her baking lots of pastries at home.