Being booked as a paid consultant to companies is one of the highest margin services offered by lifestyle businesses. You can consult full time, which pays as much as $175,000 a year according to USA Today or consulting can be a portion of your larger business. Either way can be lucrative and can lead to many other interesting opportunities all over the world. Many entrepreneurs dream of consulting at companies all over the world but few know how to do it.
There aren’t many books or much information online teaching entrepreneurs how to book paid consulting, but you won’t succeed if you don’t understand what companies are looking for. This year, I’ve booked 20 consulting gigs at companies in 20 countries. I just completed a six-country consulting tour in Europe. I know a little about paid consulting. Here are four things companies look for when hiring a consultant.
1. A foundation that shows you’re an expert on your topic.
When an H.R manager at a company is considering hiring you, they will look at your foundation — your website, social media presence and email list. They want to see if your foundation matches the expertise you claim you have.
Your website pages should demonstrate your expertise. Your content page should include blog posts, podcasts and/or videos that show you know what you’re talking about and can educate. You need “speaking” and “consulting” pages about what to expect when hiring you, what your topics were if you’ve done gigs in other places and the value you provide to a company.
2. Content on large publications.
Companies, C.E.O.’s, H.R. managers and small business owners all look to, trust and read large business and personal development publications. They read Entrepreneur, Business Insider, SUCCESS and so on for information and strategies to help their businesses grow.
When you contribute to these publications you become a trusted source who is seen as an expert. When a company can read your content on these publications, they trust you do know what you’re talking about and become interested in hiring you.
Being a contributor to major publications that everyone reads and respects is social proof which can bring you consulting gigs organically.
3. Being interviewed on podcasts on your topic.
Sharing your expertise by being interviewed on a podcast is another powerful form of social proof. A company can hear your voice and listen to your sharing your thoughts and advice about your topic area. The bigger the podcast, the more you’re perceived as an expert.
Exposure demonstrates that influential people respect you as an expert and are looking to you for advice. Get on every podcast you can. Keep your messaging and branding in the interviews focused on demonstrating your expertise.
4. They want to see you presenting.
Before a company hires you they want to see how you move and how you present. They want to be confident you present clearly in a way that will engage their employees and department heads.
If you don’t have video, you need to get some. If you have never done a speaking gig begin with a presentation at a local Meetup group, Rotary Club, Chamber of Commerce or WordCamp event, and get it recorded. Or, you can record training videos of yourself speaking in a quiet and tidy area of your home. The point is to get some video and get that on your website so companies can see you sharing your expertise in a way that appeals to them.
Paid consulting at companies can bring serious income and the opportunity to travel the world for free. To get there, build the foundation companies are looking for. Stack your social proof! They want to be certain you are an expert. Invest time gathering the social proof of your expertise that will get you started, and later booked for higher paid consulting gigs.
As I’m writing this, I’m preparing for my second consulting tour of the year, which will take me to five countries in Asia. This is possible for you when you do the work.
This article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com.