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by Kate Wendleton, Founder, The Five O'Clock Club

Fifteen percent of the attendees at The Five O’Clock Club are looking for consulting work as opposed to fulltime, on-payroll positions. Whichever you are looking for, the basic techniques apply:

  • Develop a target list of organizations to contact—your Targeting Map.
  • Contact them, using The Five O’Clock Club’s four-paragraph approach (see our book, Shortcut Your Search).
  • Tell them you are interested in consulting assignments. Or you can say, “I’m available for full- or part time assignments.”
  • Follow up with a phone call. For example, one Five O’Clock Clubber was an unemployed actor in his mid-40s. He had been trying to start his own consulting business, coaching senior executives on presentation techniques. Although he was highly skilled in presentation coaching, he was having a problem getting his business off the ground. His wife suggested he come to The Club.

He was with us for only about eight sessions. First, we asked him to develop his target list— senior executives with major corporations. He developed his cover letter using The Five O’Clock Club approach. He had a brochure, which was not very good, but that didn’t matter. What matters is the follow-up phone call.

Every week, the group urged him to make those calls and ask for meetings. He soon landed an assignment with a Johnson & Johnson executive, followed by an assignment with an anchor at CNN. Then he mailed to everyone on his list telling them about his recent assignments. Within a few weeks, he landed a number of other assignments, and we told him to raise his rates.

During the seven months from the time we met him, he earned $175,000. His wife quit her job.

The trick with consulting work— if you want to do it for a living vs. doing it in between jobs— is keeping the work coming while you are spending time delivering your services. Many consultants forget to market, until the work dries up.

So to keep the prospects coming, we recommend a quarterly emailing to approximately 200 to 400 good leads. In this mailing, your cover letter would describe the projects you have been working on, suggesting that people call you if they would like similar help from you. You would also attach your brochure or a link to your website. And you would include a value-added piece, such as a link to an article on a topic that would be of interest to your target audience and support the service you are offering. That’s it— do it quarterly.

Of course, Five O’Clock Clubbers have come up with other options. One person worked as the head of marketing for a small company two days a week, and another two days a week did the same thing for another small firm. He charged each of them about half of what he would have charged them full time on payroll including benefits. He ended up with a four-day-a-week lifestyle and more money than he would have earned otherwise. When he lost one of those assignments, he still had one left, and marketed himself to replace the other one.

By the way, 5% of Clubbers decide to start their own small businesses. That’s an area we can help you with as well.


Kate Wendleton, Founder and Editor-in-Chief

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