One of the benefits of being an independent professional is having the flexibility to follow your passion and choose the type of work you do. However, project frequency can ebb and flow, and it can sometimes be difficult to establish a steady stream of work.
Luckily, there are many ways to keep your pipeline full such as leveraging online marketplaces, reaching out to your network, and giving your personal brand a boost. Here are three best practices for keeping your independent business busy.
Online marketplaces are increasingly prevalent and popular places to find short-term work as an independent professional. These platforms match job opportunities with freelancers. Typically, you’ll fill out a standard profile and then apply to positions that best fit your skillset.
When utilizing online marketplaces, start by doing some research to find specific sites that align with your industry. Some networks are geared more towards IT professionals, while others focus more on management consulting. While online marketplaces offer numerous opportunities, it may be difficult to establish meaningful or ongoing client relationships with one-off projects.
Company-specific marketplaces are another option that may provide longer-term engagements. Integrated direct sourcing exchanges like MBO Connect™ help all different types of independent professionals grow their project pipeline by matching their skills, availability, and rate with contract opportunities.
Many major organizations are furthering the trend of flexible employment by using independent professionals to staff projects. These companies are developing external-facing solutions to engage independent talent.
For example, the Talent Exchange is one such professionally focused marketplace.
To discover other company-specific marketplaces, reach out to former employers or clients to see if their organization has a talent marketplace you can join.
Networking can be a great way to find work during a dry spell. Reach out to friends and colleagues to see if they have any recommendations of others to network with. If you have a positive, ongoing relationship with a former client, see if they have any upcoming projects, or if they know of someone who may be in need of your services.
Partnering with other consultants is another way to secure work. Colleagues often need assistance on a large project, or on a certain part of a project that they don’t have expertise in. Working with another independent consultant is a great way to build your network and meet clients who are not currently in your roster.
No matter what kind of marketplace you use to find work, you’ll likely fill out some sort of profile, resume wizard, or pass on information about your services to a lead. Preparing your credentials ahead of time will help you smoothly move through these processes.
A resume is a useful sales tool for your business, and can help set you apart from your competition. A resume showcases your top work, skills, and experience in a simple, easy-to-read format.
In addition to a resume, your LinkedIn profile is often the first thing a potential client will look at, so ensure it is up-to-date. LinkedIn can be particularly useful to promote your pas successes. If you don’t already have client testimonials on your profile, reach out to past clients and ask for a recommendation.
Lastly, take an overall look at your personal marketing efforts. If you have a professional website, make sure it is updated to show off your latest projects. If you regularly blog, ensure you share these content efforts across social media platforms. Building a strong personal brand will help boost your professional credibility and assist with your outreach efforts.
To be considered a trusted independent consultant, one must go a long way to become established as a thought leader. While content creation and developing your own “voice” are fundamental elements, a heavy portion of thought leadership development is dedicated to having a presence in your area of expertise’s discourse and industry events, both physically and virtually.
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