Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Finding Clients in your network

I'm fortunate to have met some great folks and maintained relationships throughout my career. My best advice is to never, ever burn a bridge when leaving a company. Former companies should be a source of job references and usually end up being future partners or clients. As an independent consultant, the strength of your network will directly translate into billable work.

Get the word out to the following networks that you are available for independent work:
For social networking sites, it can be very useful to know that a friend of yours knows somebody at the company you are interviewing at for an insight or insider tips. Recruiters have often contacted me through my LinkedIn profile. Janak provide a great tip to list your technical skills in your profile summary or specialties - so you will appear when someone does a search for a particular skill.

On job websites, I have found it very helpful to set up daily search agents for the skillset keywords I'm most interested in. Not only does this provide leads on which companies or industries to start looking into, but the daily listing also provides a general indication of the matching opportunities and which way the market is trending. These daily emails were a major factor to determine that the move independent consulting could be a sustainable transition from full-time work. Do sign up for multiple jobs sites. Due to cost, most companies will not cross-post their openings on multiple sites.

If you've got a strong resume, you'll end up getting contacted by many recruiters. Keep in contact with just a handfulof recruiters that you have been able to establish a good relationship and feel very comfortable with. Most recruiters will do the bare minimum to make a match simply based on keyword matches on your profile without really understanding your goals or the clients' needs.

If you are in between clients and have some cycles to spare, volunteering or nonprofit work is a great way to network and heighten your overall karma. I'm helping a friend who started Connect the Dots (a nonprofit helping "green" nonprofits) by volunteering and providing technical advice.

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