How I Got My First Software Consulting Client

Right Out of College and With No “Network”

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How to get your first client is a classic question that many before me have tried to answer. To someone on the outside the whole process can just seem mysterious… “Use your network” people say, but what if you don’t have a network? Coming out of college the only people I knew were other students, so I sure didn’t feel like I had a “network”.

In reality I did though, and in fact my first consulting job came when two of my classmates received $20,000 in incubator funding soon after I graduated and “hired” me to help them build out their product. While this experience may seem like a fluke and there is nothing to learn from it, my suspicion is that most consultants first gigs were seemingly random.

However after landing 4 separate clients over the course of the last 2 years, I’m starting to see a pattern in how these things work. The three ingredients for success are:

  1. Time (approx. 3 months)
  2. Money (enough to support yourself without income for #1)
  3. Marketing (or more simply, posting on platforms where clients are looking)

Time

Money

Marketing

Another key insight for first-time consultant is to think “why would the client pick me over the other very similar applicants”? If you can’t think of a very good reason (and I couldn’t when I started) then realize that among the similar applicants who apply, often times clients simply pick the the first suitable applicant they come across. What this means for you is that the difference between applying within the first 10 minutes of when a job is posted rather than the first 10 hours can be the difference between getting the job and not even getting an interview… As much as I hate distractions, now is the time to set your phone to ring, enable email notifications and be ready with your application template so that when an opportunity comes in you can just tweak your email to match the specific job and send it off all within a few minutes. But don’t stop there — if you get a response to your application try and reply to THAT as quickly as possible too. For my second client (who I had never met before and had no mutual connection) we went from initial email to meeting in person in under 12 hours … And I’m quite sure that’s what led to me landing the gig.

More to come on this in the future. If you’ve read this far feel free to email me with your situation and I’d be happy to chat with you in more detail.

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