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Some advice to would be consultants

The one qualification that's critical in a consultant is genuine, hands on, balls to the wall, expertise in doing rather than selling - and that's also the one thing most of the people carrying consulting company business cards don't have.

Last week, Computerworld's Julia King had some cool advice for would be consultants - Here's her premise:

As companies continue to cut costs, consolidate staffs and eviscerate executive salaries, more and more senior-level IT professionals are eyeing corporate exits -- or being shown them against their will.

For many such tech execs, the next step on the increasingly rocky, do-it-yourself 21st-century career path is independent consulting.

And to summarize her advice its to:

  1. specialize in something
  2. manage your money (pay the IRS first), time, and connections;
  3. sell through networking; and,
  4. be prepared to work long, and odd, hours.

Although some of the people she quotes sort of mention this, the one key to consulting success she doesn't remotely stress enough is that you should actually know what you're doing -something far too many don't because they've been so busy honing the patter, they're ludicrously out of touch with the reality of computing today.

Sadly the prevailing ethos in consulting is that stated by one of her interviewees:

"But in the middle of dinner if the phone rings and it's a prospective client, I take the call," he says. "When you're only eating what you kill, and something comes across your path, you chase it."

So let me offer some contrary advice: do what you love, know what you're doing, let others do the selling for you, and you too can pay the mortgage while sleeping like a baby.