A Community For Aspiring Independent Consultants

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While the consulting jobs and career resources here on TalentEgg are primarily for students and recent grads interested in entering management and technology consulting jobs with consulting and professional services firms, some of you may be more interested in working for yourself by opening up your very own independent consulting business.

Yes, independent consultants are usually people who already have years of work experience and advanced education under their belts, but many entrepreneurial young people start their own consultancies in new or up-and-coming service areas, such as social media, online marketing, web design and development, sustainability and even youth issues.

It all comes down to two things: how confident you are in your area of expertise, and how well you can sell your expertise to potential clients.

Starting your own business can be a terrifying and sometimes lonely process, and there will inevitably be times that you wish you had somewhere to turn for training, mentorship and community.

That’s why we want to recommend you check out the Association of Independent Consultants (AIC), Canada’s only nationally-operating independent consulting organization.

Founded in 1989, AIC works to build and advance the profile of independent consultants in Canada, creating a national community for skill-building and professional development, and acting as a go-to point for employers and business owners looking to hire independent consultants. AIC can also be an invaluable resource for young people who have just started their own consulting businesses.

It’s pretty easy to become a member: it requires only a yearly fee ($149) and the completion of an information form. As a member, you are bound by the AIC code of ethics, which dictates standards related to “efficiency, confidentiality, integrity, objectivity and competence.”

Membership with the AIC allows you to participate in a national community of like-minded entrepreneurs, who convene at 11 educational and networking events each year. For example, upcoming events in Toronto include seminars on messaging and communications, and strategic and tactical planning.

If you’re envious of all the training those new grad consultants receive at large firms, this could be a way to find your own professional development! These events are only $10 for AIC members or $35 for non-members – pretty affordable, even for a student or recent grad.

There are plenty of other benefits to attending these events, too, such as:

  • Learn from more established consulting professionals
  • Eye up the competition – who else is offering services similar to your own?
  • Develop strategic alliances with complementary consultants

The AIC’s partnerships with the Society of Internet Professionals and Canadian Association of Professional Speakers also allows you to leverage the membership of other professional societies.

Like many industry associations, the AIC also has a searchable database of independent consultants. If you’re still in the exploratory stage of your business, it might be a good idea to connect with a couple consultants – for a coffee or by email, for example – to learn more about being an independent consultant and how they started their business.

Would you ever start your own independent consulting business?

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About the author

Elias Da Silva-Powell is a Content, Marketing and Community Specialist at TalentEgg, as well as a two-time graduate of Queen's University. An avid bow-titan, he has been trying to bring whimsical neck wear back into the mainstream since 2008. He's around on Twitter: @EDSPowell and you can check out his profile on LinkedIn, and even G+.