The world is soon going to be in great need of IT experts that can help solve problems and help us transition into a new way of living and handling business. If you’re working in the field, you are already in a great position. Maybe you have already seen a spike in activity across the industry. But if you’re a worker, that only translates into more work for you, not profits. This could all change if you get on the business side and start working as an IT consultant. Here’s what you’ll need to do to get there.
Know if You Have What It Takes
The first thing you should do is know what the job entails and decide whether you’re actually cut out for it. You have to be ready for the uncertainty that comes with being a consultant. This is why it’s usually recommended that you keep your current position at the beginning and ease your way in. You also have to make sure that you have all the soft skills needed to be successful. You may have great technical knowledge, but if you can’t vulgarise concepts for your clients or are just not good with people in general, then this might be an issue.
If you’re really bad at speaking in public, for instance, you might end up being limited or simply unable to perform your functions. There are times when you’ll have to work with whole teams and help train them. Being able to speak to large groups of people confidently will be one of the most important traits you’ll need to either have or acquire.
Another thing you have to know is that you’ll have to be able to sell yourself if you want to get clients, and most of it will happen during interviews. If your interview skills are not up to par, you will need to work on them immediately. You have to be able to create a connection with your interviewer and show them tangible ways in which you’ll be able to help their organisation.
Get the Credentials
The consulting industry is very much driven by credentials, and the better your credentials are, the higher you can charge and the easier it will be to find clients. You will have to go above and beyond and get more than the bachelor’s you probably have at the moment. If you want a solution that will allow you to keep your current job, then we suggest you give the Wilfrid Laurier online master of computer science a closer look. A master’s will put you way in front of the pack, and you can get your degree much faster online. You could also decide to take your classes part-time if you want to ease your workload.
There are table stakes in that business and they can go from the general, like certifications in project management, or more specific like certification in a particular vendor product. These will allow potential employers to instantly appreciate your expertise and see if you should even be considered. Some of these credentials may also be requirements for bidding on certain jobs. They are usually mandatory if you want to work on government contracts, for instance. Your certifications also have to be relevant to your clients. If most of your clients are working with Microsoft Azure, then AWS certification won’t do much for you. It’s about understanding your market and knowing what the most pressing needs are at the moment.
This business is all about relationships, and unless you know how to cultivate and nurture them, you’ll never be successful. You’ll also have to be ready to do some work for free at the beginning so you can get these references. You will not be hired if you don’t have references, so treat your first clients like gold and always ask if you can cite them. Even if you end up working for a well-known company, your reputation will be more important. Brand recognition may open the door with certain clients, and it’s your reputation that will end up closing deals.
Your reputation as a consultant will even supersede your qualifications after a while. You’re only as good as the last job you worked on in this business and, at the end of the day, it will all boil down to your track record of service, the results you were able to get, and your personal reputation. So, build a solid one and safeguard it at all costs.
Be Ready for Forks in the Road
Many things can go wrong in this business. One of them is deals with vendors falling through. These will often act like they’re your biggest partner and cheerleader only to leave you in the cold if something goes wrong with one of their solutions. You might suddenly find out that the company in question is run from a cold war era apartment somewhere, and that’s if you’re lucky to get an answer. So, be careful with who you sign up to become authorised resellers with. You should try to develop expertise and skills on a handful of solutions in different categories (email platforms, routers, antivirus, backup software, etc.) and explain to your clients why these are your go-tos.
Work on Business Development
Even if you manage to get a good reputation, things will still be scarce when getting started. You might be able to get one or two jobs in hand in advance, but you will need to replace those jobs when they are completed. Business development is an aspect that is often overlooked when people get in the field, but you will now be the captain of your own ship. This means that you’ll have to proactively seek the next clients so you can get the experience and expertise that you need while getting the training to gain value-add skills.
If you think you are ready to leave your 9 to 5 for a career as a consultant, this is what you’ll need to be prepared to do. Speak with other people who’ve been there and done that, and look at what type of certifications and credentials you’ll need to have a realistic chance of making it.