If you’re a professional thinking about making the switch from full-time integration employee to EDI consultant, there are a few things you should know. Here, we lay out our top tips for becoming a consultant – successfully.
Get Comfortable with Becoming a Consultant
As an electronic data interchange (EDI) consultant, your clients will be companies that need help integrating their business systems with those of their trading partners so they can do real-time, error-free information exchange. If you’re currently an EDI employee, that means the type of work you’ll do once you make the switch isn’t likely to change much. The difference will be that finding the clients will be up to you.
Getting businesses to put their faith and trust in you as a service provider may take some time, especially if you’re new to the EDI consultancy game. This will likely entail a lot of research, outreach, and pitching, not to mention long hours, including weekends and holidays. As an employee, you get paid time off. As a consultant, if you don’t work, you don’t earn. Be prepared to put in the (unpaid) time and effort at the outset to build up your client base.
Once you have steady work, keep in mind that the frequency and length could vary, depending on the type of contract you work out and the scope of your clients’ needs. If it’s project-based, expect to have several days, weeks, or even months of downtime in between projects.
Rather than despair about the lack of pay coming in then, use that time to your advantage. Brush up your skills with relevant online and in-person learning sessions, polish your resume, meet with new potential clients, and more.
Start Right with Research
Before you make the decision to leave your current job, make sure you do your homework. Research potential advisors, those professionals who do what you want to do. Then reach out to them to see if they’d be amenable to you picking their brain.
This may seem daunting, but don’t let it deter you. Think of it this way: Most people like talking about themselves, and when you ask these consultants for advice, you’re giving them a chance to do just that. When they do, they’ll likely be glad to hear about your plan to switch over to consulting and provide feedback based on their own experiences. Maybe they’ll suggest having more savings to fall back on in the beginning, or tweaking your proposed potential-client approach.
Whatever it is, having mentors will give you the benefit of knowing what’s on the path you want to take – before you’ve taken it yourself.
Don’t Burn Any Bridges
You may have already decided to leave the 9-to-5 world and set out on your own (and that’s great!) but if you’re feeling the urge to leave your current job under anything but the best possible circumstances, resist it.
As an independent contractor, your reputation is your bond. Don’t act in a way that will question your integrity or make people in the industry leery of hiring you once you’ve gone solo. Don’t badmouth your current company, either now or once you’ve left, and do keep the end of your time at it polite and uneventful. After all, if you play your cards right and keep your relationship with the business positive, you might just land your first freelance client while you’re still an employee.
Reach out to your Network
Here’s where staying on good terms with your most recent job will really pay off. Your best pool of new potential clients will come from the network you’ve acquired over the course of your career. Supervisors and colleagues know you and the work you do, so who better to recommend you (if not become your first clients themselves)?
Before you depart your job, make sure to let the people with whom you’ve worked most closely know that you’re striking out on your own. They’re likely to be impressed with your courage and independent-mindedness, and since they’re in the industry they’re also likely to know of individuals and businesses looking for consultants.
Your network isn’t limited to your most recent job, however. Chances are, you’ve been employed elsewhere and have an educational background to boot. Join alumni and other social media groups and check their pages regularly and frequently. Are they having in-person gatherings? Make a point of attending when possible – and be sure to bring business cards with you. Post, too, and let people know you’re hanging out your own shingle. You might just catch someone at the exact time they’re looking for an EDI consultant.
Another quick and easy way to generate some buzz around your new professional adventure is through a LinkedIn profile update. While you’re on the site, look up a few old colleagues you haven’t talked to in a while. Invite a few of them out for coffee or lunch – and when they accept, have some interesting discussion topics ready. Launching right into your pitch for their or their contacts’ business before the drinks arrive will send the message that you’re only in it to see how they can help you. Instead, treat the time as a chance to catch up with old friends, and careers are sure to come up naturally. That’s a perfect opportunity to bring up your new venture.
Keep in mind that even if none of these outings yields immediate business for you, they could well pay dividends later on, some in ways you’d never expect.
Find a Solid Partner
Most journeys are best taken with a partner, and becoming an EDI consultant is no exception. If you’re ready to become a consultant, let Remedi be that partner. With our targeted staffing and software solutions, we help connect organizations with the right integration professionals for them and their needs.
As a consultant in Remedi’s network, you’ll get the support of an expert team, including an office manager, account manager, and recruiters to help match you with the right companies and projects.
Our staff are integration and EDI specialists who have long-standing, solid relationships with IT leaders and hiring managers nationwide. That’s part of how we’re able to find the best work fits for the consultants we bring on board.
Think Remedi might be right for you? Contact us today.