Respectable consultancies start with their professional network.
For instance, one of our clients has spent 12 years in Oracle and 3 years in Microsoft in directive or business development roles. He has started a management consultancy with a couple other leading experts from well-known corporations.
It’s a no-brainer, especially for leads that are too small for the large companies and can be contacted later on at no risk of violating contracts.
My first consulting gigs were through my network as a trainer. I’ve led courses at SAP, VMware, Saudi Aramco, CERN, and a number of other large organizations. My local brand recognition helped bootstrap the venture along with my social media presence and PR activities.
Building a powerful personal/professional brand is the key. Charging for advice is contingent on a proven success record, otherwise, it’s tricky to trust a random individual or a small company that hasn’t tested theoretical knowledge in practice.