Tips for Independent IT Consultants

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checkIf you are tired of working as corporate IT career, you may be considering making the move to independent consulting. As an IT consultant, you can use the skills you honed in a corporate environment, but before you make that leap, there are some aspects of independent IT consulting that you should understand.

Understand You Client’s Needs

When negotiating a new job, it’s very important to fully understand the scope of the project before you begin. You need to drill down and ask pointed questions in order to understand exactly what your client needs and what services they expect you to provide. When beginning a project, it is also important to know what work has already been performed and what challenges your client faces so that you know where to start and how to price your services.

Negotiate Reasonable Fees

When negotiating a price for your services, don’t begin with a high bid and then come down to meet your client’s budget. Clients appreciate a reasonable competitive price, and overbidding can make for missed opportunities. While it’s important to offer reasonable rates, underbidding projects can also turn off a potential client because it makes them wonder why you are offering your services for so cheap. Remember that negotiating fees for a consulting project is similar to negotiating a salary at a corporate job, so be upfront about your pricing and let your client know exactly what to expect for their money.

Don’t Overcommit

While it’s good to have confidence in your skills, be careful when accepting projects not to bite off more than you can chew. Even if you really need work at the time, you have to be reasonable about what you can and can’t accomplish. Taking on more work than you can handle will only lead to project failure and the loss of a good recommendation from that client, so be honest with yourself and your clients.

Seek Innovative Solutions

Clients often turn to consultants when they have exhausted all their other options and are at a loss for how to meet their goals. As an IT consultant, it’s your job to come up with innovative solutions that will wow your clients, so let your creativity loose. Don’t offer the safe and easy answer to your client’s problems. They will thank you if you come up with something that meets their needs in a new and exciting way.

Practice Humility

Remember that as a consultant, you aren’t going to get all the corporate executive perks. Don’t expect your first day on the job to be greeted with gourmet coffee and your own private office. You are there to get your project completed, not to be wooed by the company. It’s important to focus on the job and let your client express their gratitude for your work instead of expecting praise and perks right off the bat.

Read more in Salary Negotiation

Marie is a writer for covering career advice, recruitment topics, and HR issues. She has an educational background in languages and literature as well as corporate experience in Human Resources.