In the business world, who you know can be equally as important as what you know. To ensure you have a steady flow of projects, you need to build and maintain a strong circle of business contacts that can refer this work to you – after all, word of mouth can be one of your most powerful marketing tools. We’ve compiled some networking tips for independent consultants and independent contractors to help you boost your business prospects.
Instead of just reaching out to people, take it one step further: ask them to become your mentor, or offer to become theirs. Before doing this, you’ll want to figure out exactly what benefits you’re anticipating from the mentoring experience. Perhaps you’re looking for a younger person in your field that has all the technical training and social media savvy that you’d like to learn. Or maybe you’re just looking for advice from someone whose viewpoint and approach to work differs drastically from yours. Whatever your reasons, ensure you clearly communicate them.
Take Your Networking Online
Just like almost everything else in 2012, much of today’s networking occurs online. Some sites to keep in mind include:
LinkedIn: Many people use LinkedIn solely to connect with people they’ve already met offline. However, if can be a great way to introduce yourself to high-ranking people at companies you’re interested in working with. If you have one connection in common, you can request that your mutual connection introduce the two of you. However, when requesting the introduction, ensure you explain why you’d like to be introduced to your friend’s connection (for example: I am an independent technology consultant interested in learning about opportunities at XYZ Company). Make sure your profile is solid before you reach out to others – so they truly understand your background and the value of networking with you. For more, check out our recent blog post about updating your LinkedIn profile to include expert status.
Your blog: Blogging about your industry or expertise is a great way to network. Many bloggers guest post on each other’s blogs, write posts in response to what other bloggers have written, and comment back and forth. Establishing yourself as an expert blogger is a great way to meet potential clients and other independent consultants who may be able to offer support or advice.
Twitter: One of the major aspects of networking is regularly staying in touch with your contacts. On Twitter, you can follow your professional contacts, keep up with their projects, and share interesting articles. You may see something mentioned in a tweet in your timeline that leads to a major consulting project. Also, establishing yourself as a trusted authority on news in your industry on Twitter is a great way to build your credibility and show potential clients that you’re up on the latest trends.
Independent contractor misclassification can be an expensive mistake—here’s what you need to know to avoid it.
Managing a consulting business is both rewarding and challenging. Here are four times to consider partnering with other consultants to ease your workload.