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Is business community development consultant a good option

by Osman
(South africa)

Visitor Question: Hi there. I have completed my degree in community development studies some 4 years back. However I have not managed as yet to find suitable employment or one which allows me to utilise my qualifications.

So as my headline reads I am considering offering services as a business community development consultant to a variety of businesses. The idea is that I utilise my skills and knowledge to firstly have businesses benefit local communities via projects, and at the same time have the business benefit via the publicity and so on, therein increasing support for those businesses as well as benefitting their brand image.

I am just uncertain as to whether this is actually a viable prospect and would like some advice regarding this.

I live in South Africa so there is very much a need for community upliftment and with my current position very much a need for suitable employment. I would appreciate any feed back.

Thank you.

Editors Respond: We do not have specific South Africa experience, so you will need plenty of feedback from people there to help you understand the possibilities. Our advice to any young professional finding himself or herself without employment is to find a place to volunteer your services, if possible, and to spend lots of time networking with others and asking more experienced professionals for their advice.

One note of caution is that least here in the U.S., people generally expect consultants to have experiences to offer rather than using the consultant role to gain needed experience. Whether that is true there or not depends on how much people want the knowledge that you have, and whether there are a good number of people already supplying that knowledge.

Having said that, we think you have a great idea. We are just not sure whether you should be relying on it to making a living or not. Our suggestion would be that you try to set yourself up with at least one business on a volunteer basis to show exactly what you can do. We hate to give away our services for free when we have worked so hard on our education, but sometimes we have to have some photos and testimonials from people we have worked with already.

Prepare a good little short explanation of why a business would want to do this, and then go door to door to businesses and ask them if they would be interested. Believe what they say, and change your approach as you move along until eventually you are successful in finding a business to work with. Then help them figure out a gratifying project that will make the owner (and the employees, if that is important to the owner) feel good. Make sure you are gaining as much positive publicity as possible for the business.

If you do a good job of putting together some photos showing the business engaged in a community project that they really enjoy, you will have an easier time convincing the next business to work with you.

If you are successful in finding one business that will allow you to serve as a "volunteer consultant," then ask for a fee from the next business. At the conclusion of each project with a business, ask them how much they think a business would be willing to pay for your services.

What you are proposing would be fairly unique here. Maybe you can build a specialty there in South Africa; if so, come back here and tell us about it. I'm sure others would be interested.

In the meantime, don't give up on employment. Ask those people who gave you the degree to help you out a little more!

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