The consulting business is incredibly lucrative but also highly competitive. Many consultants earn more than doctors or lawyers, but with just ten firms controlling much of the market, it can be hard to get clients. Each client you land with is easier than the last, but it can be tough to land your first one if you’re just starting as a consultant. Here are some tips for landing your first consulting job.

Plan for the future

Don’t focus on getting your first client- focus on getting your fourth or fifth client. Because by that time, you’re no longer a green consultant; you’re an experienced one. You have your pitch, you know why you’re the best consultant a client can buy, and you are prepared to answer questions. Work on those things so when you’re trying to sell yourself to your first client, you already seem experienced. 

Work for free

If you’re just starting, one way to build experience is to work for free, but don’t do that for anybody- volunteer your pro bono services to a nonprofit. That way, you have the experience to add to your resume when looking for actual paying clients, and the nonprofit gets some free help with their cause. It’s a win-win. 

Market yourself

One of the most effective and free tools you can use to find a client (and a job) is social media. Learn how to use these many different platforms to your advantage and how to write short ad copy for yourself on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, or whatever else your potential clients are using. 

Be specific

One of the biggest mistakes you can make is defining your talents broadly to try and reach a broad audience. It pays off to specialize, so make sure you are specific in describing your expertise. Be prepared to answer questions like what you’re offering and why it’s needed in the first conversation with a client so they can see how they’d be better off hiring you.

Landing that first client or job can be tricky, but it gets easier each time you become more experienced. By following these tips, you’re sure to get that first job and start your career as a consultant.