An L&D consultant is an entrepreneur. You decide who your clients will be and what projects you find valuable. You decide the work location that best fits your needs, whether that is onsite with the client or working remotely from the comfort of your home office. You determine your work schedule and when it’s time for you to take a vacation. You negotiate your rate and have the power to decline those projects that don’t meet your financial requirements. Ultimately, you are in the driver’s seat. But none of this comes without the time spent networking to find the right clients, making this all possible.
Like all entrepreneurs, you don’t have a business unless you have clients and that requires a heavy emphasis on networking. Sure, you can rely on agencies to find you project work or you can build a pipeline yourself. Either way, you need to be visible and highly regarded.
Below is a list of key suggestions to get you noticed:
1. LinkedIn profile: if you’re an L&D consultant, you should have a LinkedIn profile. Prospective clients WILL check you out on LinkedIn. Clients expect you to be an active user, not just someone who created a profile because they had to. Your profile should be robust, including multiple network connections, recommendations, and pertinent groups. Clients are looking for recommendations from previous clients/employers who can comment on your work performance, not just co-workers who comment on what a great person you are to work with on projects. Your profile needs to be complete - with dates, employer names, job titles, and responsibilities – responsibilities that include quantifiable accomplishments.
If you want to be found, use key terms in your profile. Recruiters and clients search LinkedIn using industry terms in order to find you. For example, instructional designers can use terms such as: instructional design, content development, storyboards, needs assessment, Captivate, Storyline, and ADDIE, to name a few. For technical communicators terms like: technical writing, documentation, editing, user guides, Framemaker, and Visio, can be used.
2. LinkedIn Connections: these are not only former clients/co-workers but others who are in your industry. These connections are all potential clients for the L&D consultant and may have a future project waiting for you. Even if you are actively working on a project, it’s a good idea to stay in touch with your network connections. Share an update with your connection; let them know if you’re working with a really cool authoring tool or answer questions posed in your LinkedIn groups. This is a great way to get you noticed in your peer and potential client circles.
3. Website or e-portfolio: if you REALLY want to get noticed, create a website. This is a great way to showcase your work to potential clients. If your work samples are proprietary, ask your client for permission to scrub the samples, thereby removing confidential information. If that is not an option, then you might create some new samples to display on your website – samples that demonstrate your skills without risk of revealing private projects. If you don’t want to create a website but would like to display your work, there are many websites that will host your online portfolio for free.
4. Staffing firm alliances: even if you feel comfortable building and maintaining your client pipeline directly, we encourage you to align yourself with top staffing firms. A staffing firm that specializes in learning & development roles, like TrainingPros, is a great way to stay connected through bigger resources and more varied project potential. If you’re not already an established TrainingPros consultant, we invite you to visit the TrainingPros Talent Portal and join our team today.
You’ve taken control of your career; now take control of your networking opportunities. By implementing the simple steps above, you’re sure to open the door to valuable professional connections, increase the number of opportunities you have to choose from and ultimately achieve success in your professional L&D career.