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Getting your first clients as a part-time physician consultant

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Some physicians slip naturally in successful consulting careers over time as a result of lots of experience, strong networks, and consistently being helpful and providing value wherever they work. But it can take a lot of time to get there. You may want to do some part-time physician consulting early on in your career. Or start a consulting side gig in an area that you’re not yet well-known. This is definitely possible – you just need to be proactive.

Consulting work as a physician can take many forms. A few examples are:

  • Sharing your knowledge and expertise
  • Providing analysis and solutions to an organization’s challenges
  • Writing documents and reports on medical topics
  • Developing health programs
  • Giving presentations or lectures for organizations

Depending on your focus and experience, some types of consulting make it easier to start landing clients than others. But regardless of exactly what your hustle is, there are steps you can take to accelerate the process.

Here are five ways to get your first clients as a physician consultant.

Keep in touch with acquaintances doing similar consulting work

An acquaintance who does a comparable type of consulting work or who has similar types of clients to those you’d love to land is an excellent resource. Talk to these people about how they find their consulting clients. Do it tactfully, though. You’re looking for insight; you’re not trying to steal their business.

In addition to getting advice, you can also ask if they’ve had to turn any work down. If so, suggest that they pass your name along to those clients or companies. Some physicians are swamped or only have specific types of work that they like to do. They may be thrilled to have a colleague to recommend for certain types of projects. While new work might not come pouring in right away, you’ll at least be in prospective clients’ rolodex.

Exhibit what you offer on the internet

Having a website with a blog to market your services will go far. Companies in need of a new type of service or consulting often rely on information from the web to make a decision about whom to hire. Demonstrating your value online is inexpensive (and sometimes free) for you, and freely available to potential clients.

You’ve heard me put in a plug for LinkedIn before when it comes to establishing your personal brand and finding freelance work. Establishing a consulting practice is no different in this regard. A strong LinkedIn profile will connect you with potential clients, even without any additional effort on your part. If you want to put in additional effort, making posts, proactively finding connections, and sending inMail will only increase your chances of landing your first clients.

Simply “being present” online is another tactic. Answer other people’s questions related to your consulting niche on boards with Quora, Reddit, or industry-specific forums such as Student Doctor Network.

The most important aspect of this technique is to demonstrate the value your services offer. Your online involvement can essentially be a display of the problems you help solve and how you offer focused solutions to them.

Reach out to companies that would benefit from your consulting

You don’t necessarily need a connection or a “foot in the door” to land a consulting gig with a new client. The first step is to identify a company with a problem that you can solve or an area that you can otherwise offer real value. Then them know this and demonstrate that you’re the right person to help.

You might be able to think of some prospects right off the bat. These might be companies you’ve interacted with through previous employers (as long as you don’t have a non-compete agreement in place), came across as you’ve researched your niche, or learned about through your network.

Otherwise, keep an eye out for organizations who are hiring or growing. Are they hiring for positions related to the service you want to provide as a consultant? If yes, consider reaching out. Is a new company just getting started in a part of the industry that you have years of experience in? Even if they aren’t equipped to take you on as a consultant right away, get yourself on their radar.

Demonstrate your value on a voluntary basis

A main motive for part-time consulting for most physicians is extra income. So the idea of pro bono work may seem counterintuitive. But for the new consultant on the hunt for their first clients, consulting on a voluntary basis can be a smart move.

By offering something of value free of charge, you:

  • Get your name out there
  • Display your expertise
  • Demonstrate your reliability, work ethic, etc
  • Leave people thinking, “If this is what she offers for free, imagine how valuable her paid consulting work is!”

Pro bono work can take many forms. Look for opportunities with a local or national professional organization or a nonprofit. I’m involved with an organization whose director recently passed along my name to a company looking for a physician consultant. I hadn’t even told her I was looking for opportunities; she had merely seen and appreciated the work I’ve done.

Use a platform or directory to connect you with clients

Finally, online platforms, portals, and directories can be huge assets to physician consultants just getting started. Not all consultant-client relationships need to arise organically.

To offer your expertise to companies, investors, and individuals over the phone, trying using Clarity.fm. This platform helps with both your marketing and the actual logistics of the consulting work.

Upwork and other freelancing platforms are another option. These are primarily used for design, writing, and web/software development; however, I frequently come across highly educated and skilled professionals offering services such as management consulting and data analysis.

Finally, getting your bio in a directory is a no-nonsense way of exposing your services to potential clients. For those consulting in the medico-legal space, there are numerous options available, mostly for a fee. The expense is probably worth it if you don’t have the time or resources to effectively market yourself by other means when you’re just started out.

Physicians offering knowledge expertise can apply for multiple expert panels. Put effort into crafting a detailed profile to increase your chances of being contacted.

The snowball effect is often the result of early efforts to obtain clients. Eventually, projects and clients will come to you or you’ll get referrals. Persevere at the beginning and your effort will pay off in the end.

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