Marketing Your Skills and Brand as an Independent Consultant

Growing Beyond Your Network:
Marketing Your Skills and Brand as an Independent Consultant

July 16, 2020 | 2:00 PM - 3:00 PM EST


Featured Speakers


McLean Robbins, Vice President, Enterprise Marketing, MBO Partners


McLean Robbins, Vice President, Enterprise Marketing, MBO Partners

Featured Speaker:

Amy O’Donnell, Chief Talent Officer, MBO Partners

00:00 Welcoming attendees   

01:28 About MBO Partners and their upcoming events

03:31 Introduction of the speaker

04:18 Getting contacts beyond your inner circle

05:39 Analysis of past work

08:04 Marketing outreach and targeting people

11:22 Asking for referrals

13:42 Being active in your network

18:01 Veteran status & pro bono work

19:30 Is LinkedIn Premium worth the expense?

20:17 Applying for companies during the pandemic

29:49 Value creation

36:42 How MBO provides consulting opportunities

42:52 Working with recruiters

50:31 Fostering a partnership-friendly environment

Having the confidence in building both your background and experience as a professional can be pivotal in marketing yourself as an independent professional. 

The general focus of the discussion was how to make yourself visible to various target markets by widening your connection base. Because of this, the need for the proper training has arisen to succinctly discuss one's background and skills to prospective contacts and clients.

Amy O’Donnell, the Chief Talent Officer of MBO Partners, talked about the opportunities and impact of having the knowledge to “sell” yourself to the market.

This July 2020 webinar's Q&A-style discussion talked about:

  • How to create posts that garner audience engagement
  • How to utilize MBO Partners’ services to gain new consulting opportunities 
  • How to get hired by a company by working as a contractor instead of an employee
  • How to aid recruiters to become more effective in the hiring process
  • How to determine the best strategy for finding remote opportunities amidst the pandemic

This fourth installment of the webinar series covered:

  • How to translate your skills into saleable assets for independent consulting work
  • Tips to market yourself to prospective clients
  • How to follow up and drive sales in a crowded market
  • How to evaluate current market conditions and update your presence to match demand
  • The techniques to stand out from other similar professionals in the space
  • What recruiters are seeing and thinking when they view your profile and compare it to others in the space

Are you interested in attending the next webinar? View our upcoming events.

McLean Robbins: Hi, everyone, and welcome to today's webinar. Before we get started, I'm just going to let people filter in and see the numbers ticking right up so we will hold for just a few seconds while you guys get in. So still a lot of people filtering in, so I'm going to give you guys just a few more seconds here. Hope everybody's having a great week. It's very hot here in the D.C. area.

Amy O'Donnell: Almost over.

McLean Robbins: Yes, it's almost over and I'm hopeful that next week won't be 90 degrees every day.

Amy O'Donnell: Yeah, I mean, it's hard to get away from that in D.C. and.

McLean Robbins: You just can't, yeah, not going really anywhere. You go on vacation in summer anywhere wonderful.

Amy O'Donnell: Nothing really planned. I think I'm just going to get a pool instead and stay home.

McLean Robbins: Sounds like a really good idea. All right, guys, it looks like we've had a good sort of slow down of people coming in. So we'll go ahead and get started. As I know we have a lot to say this hour. So welcome so much to the second part of our three-part webinar series. This one is going to be on your network, marketing your skills and brand as an independent consultant. Let's move to the next slide. For those of you who aren't familiar, we are MBO partners. My name is McLean Robbins and I'm here today with our chief talent officer, Amy O'Donnell. And we are working to make it easier for enterprise organizations and top independent professionals to do business together. We have been doing so for more than 20 years, building a unique, dual-sided ecosystem and platform that's composed of many of the world's leading businesses and most in-demand professionals. We are working quite hard to drive change on the ground. We're constantly advocating on behalf of independents on Capitol Hill, the longest-running research on the independent workforce in our state of independence. And we have tens of thousands of independents that work across our platform every month. And so we're really excited to share some of our knowledge and learnings with you today in this pretty immersive Q&A. Please don't forget that you have chat functionality and so feel free to dump questions in the Q&A. We'll take them at the end, but we'll also take them if they're really relevant throughout the program. And of course, a recording will be made available. If you want to move to the next slide, I want to make you guys aware we did have a part one of this series that was focused a lot on how to get your online presence in shape. A lot of really actionable tips about your resumé, about LinkedIn, et cetera. And so you can view that on our Web page: You can look at our old webinars. And we also will be having part three of this series with some hands-on recruiting tips on August 20th. And of course, all of these will be recorded. If you registered today, you'll get a copy of the recording. We also have one additional webinar this month that really fits in nicely, it's not part of the series exactly, but we'll fit in really nicely called Winning Your Audience Expert Tips to improve public speaking. Actually, the guy who's doing that webinar was the head speechwriter and chief of staff in the Reagan administration. So we have lots of really powerful experiences there. So that'll be really a good webinar to attend. to register for any of those. As I said, McLean Robbins, I'm a vice president of Enterprise Marketing here at MBO. I'm tasked with working between our independent talent and our enterprise organizations. And I am joined today by our featured guest, Amy O'Donnell, our chief talent officer who has been with the company for at least over a decade at this point.

Amy O'Donnell: Yes.

McLean Robbins: So I'm really, really excited to have you, Amy. Do you want to want to just dive right in and say we've got a lot to cover? So, yeah, as I said last time, we really talked (about) a lot of actionable tips about how to get your resume in shape. But now my online presence is looking good and I'm not totally sure how to go to market with my services beyond those people that I already call every time I need something. So why don't we just dive right in with how do we turn contacts that aren't in my inner circle?

Amy O'Donnell: So in our world, what I'm kind of used to hearing from our consultants is that it started a lot of times with an Internet network that they have ex-employers, colleagues, people that work with, and then when they kind of dries up or they're looking for a new project and their network just doesn't seem to have anything. What's next? So the first part of this was to make sure you look good online, resumes one thing, LinkedIn is another. And LinkedIn is pretty important, I think. And then also it's always a great idea for consultants to have some sort of Web page. It doesn't have to be extensive. But it shows that you're an independent business and you have a way to talk about your services there and highlight some things that you've done. So let's assume that we all have that done and together. And now it's kind of, now what? So I think of it in two ways. McLean The first one that I'm going to talk about, which I think. It is probably the more difficult one that people would love to just fall into projects with their friends and buddies, but that doesn't always happen.

McLean Robbins: Sorry.

Amy O'Donnell: Yeah, exactly. It is for some people, but not everybody. So how do I go to market? And I just think it's getting a plant first. Now, what type of work do I want to do, I think when you are doing proactive outreach about your services, you have the ability to market the work you love as opposed to just working on the things that are coming in the pipeline to do. So, take that opportunity to kind of think about what projects you love doing, what do they look like? And, you know, you can kind of package that up. One of the things that I would look at, too, is what companies do you like to work with? What industries do you have experience in and more specifically, who are the buyers? And if you kind of think about your career or projects, have you been hired initially by recruiters, hiring managers, CEOs, ex-colleague? Where have you had your success in the past from a level or position in a company? And then can you look inside your network and make a list of who you know versus who might be out there in other companies that you'd like to get into in those same kinds of roles?

McLean Robbins: I think that's really interesting. I don't know that I never thought to search for roles before. So once I've kind of done that past analysis of my own work and I know what companies I've worked with before, what types of managers I've gravitated towards before, what do I do? And once I've identified them, how do I kind to take that

Amy O'Donnell: that and try to identify what I'm calling your ideal buyer from an ideal buyer perspective? Who are those people that you've known in the past? But then look in your network, make sure to see how many of those you have, like, say it's a director of I.T Or a VP of marketing or whoever it is that is using your services. How many of those roles are in your audience, in your networks, and then certainly let those people know what you're doing. But can you expand by role across other companies that, gee, maybe there are other directors of I.T. in certain organizations that I want to kind of target and reach out to based on the industry or the company? So once you have your list and I always suggest making a list, I think it's a good idea. And I will say in this world, and most people probably know this, but I mean, some of it's a numbers game. I'm not saying there have to be thousands, but it can't be, too, if it's going to be too, you might be disappointed. So try to get a pretty decent list of people that you think could use your services in a value-based way. And then think about doing some outreach.

McLean Robbins: And I think I think that list is, first of all, that list is just such a good idea because I think for me at least, I've written it down and it's like, oh, this is real. I have to do this. So even if it's just the notepad on your computer, you have that to go back to. But when you say outreach and sort of tell(ing) people what you're doing, could you be specific about that? Are you saying post to a LinkedIn status update or update your website and sort of what does outreach look like?

Amy O'Donnell: Yeah, I think there (are) two ways. I actually think some of it is sales and marketing outreach. So actually targeting people with an email with saying, hey, here are the services that I'm offering and linking them to either one-pager. I am a fan of a one-pager. Not everybody is, but I think you need to be really concise in the type of work you could do for them. The market is not going to figure out what it is you do. You've got to figure that out and talk about it in a value-based way, so, you either give them some outreach and say, Hey! Here's the type of projects I've done in the past. If your organization is looking for this or I would say follow in the news, too, I mean, what's going on with companies when you're looking at that outreach? Try to connect what it is you do to might be going on with those managers or directors- because even in times like today, lots of companies have lost employees and we all know the work didn't go away.

McLean Robbins: Yeah and they're likely contractors.


Amy O'Donnell: They're struggling and they haven't really thought about even using anybody because they're afraid to ask their CFOs for headcount, right? Because you can't get it now in this world. But maybe you could offer up bites of a certain chunk of service that you have that is small. You know, companies may be more apt to use contractors during a time like this than others. So I think spending some time packaging that outreach when I say packaging it, it can be a cover letter of sorts. That is, hey, here's what I've done for other companies or other people in positions like yours. I'm offering my services as a small firm. Let me know if you need it if you could use any of this.

McLean Robbins: I think that's great. And I have been seeing a lot of content recently. LinkedIn, these are companies that are hiring, but also these are roles. And I love that I'm seeing eye contact tracing was not something we knew existed many months ago. I'm sure it did. And we just didn't talk about it. So lots of new types of things that you could be pretty inventive about describing your ability to do your set up for a company. You talk about you know making that list of people and saying maybe 10 buyers, 10 companies you want to target. What if you identify that there's a role within a company but you're not connected to that person? How do I, how do you approach your contacts in a way that says, can you introduce me or ask for a referral that doesn't get pushy?

Amy O'Donnell: So do you mean, you know, there's a role somewhere and you might have a contact that may be connected? Maybe they work at the same organization or they may know of somebody. And how do you kind of reach out to that person to say, can you, can I get a referral or an election?

McLean Robbins: I think there are two parts to it. There's that. I get a lot of that on LinkedIn. Can you introduce me to someone so that I'm third-degree connected to? But what if I know that I want to go into it, I'm going to pick KPMG, one of our clients. I know I want to go into KPMG. I know I want to do a project. I have a couple of connections there, but I'm just not quite sure where to go. Is it okay to go to my contact there and say, hey, this is what I want to do? Can you help me? And how do I do that?

Amy O'Donnell: Yeah, I think, I always think that is... Yeah, I think that's completely fine. But what I would say is make it easy for them, especially in these large organizations. They don't all know what's going on or what's being advertised. And so if you want (to be) introduced, then I think you should be specific about the role, do some of your own homework on LinkedIn. I know they don't always advertise hiring managers, but maybe you can figure out what group that might be in based on some of the content in the rack. If you're going to ask somebody to help you try to help them do that and how they might refer you in or and then always give them the out if maybe they don't know anybody or don't feel comfortable. But I always think it doesn't hurt to ask.

McLean Robbins: I think that's particularly useful as it doesn't hurt to ask, I'm a little shy about asking context for favors, I shy away from it.

Amy O'Donnell: I think it's harder for people to ask their known network than it is unknown. So I think having a marketing idea for both and it might be a little different. People you don't know, yes, I think you've got to be very clear in the value you want to bring in the type of work you're going to do. With your known network, some of the things you can do there as well is (are) just activity. Be active on LinkedIn, on Twitter, whatever it is that is germane to your industry occupation. I use LinkedIn because that is kind of the biggest professional...

McLean Robbins: It's the professional standard. I think that works. But there are spots, too, if you're in other areas. I think we were talking about GitHub. We've talked about even YouTube if you have some video content to share (on) your website. Um, there are lots of ways to do it.

Amy O'Donnell: So a way to connect to your current network without asking them for referrals or them understanding like, oh, gee, does this person want to project is to be active in that world where they're seeing these feeds of things that you've done. You want to try to establish yourself if you can is a------thought leader in whatever it is your craft is. So how do you do that? While you can write another article, a blog post, you can share some content from the latest project that you just completed, and maybe it was on a new version of a software tool that not everybody has. So I think if you are active in your network, your network all the time is seeing these updates. And I think that helps to let them know what kind of work might be available to do without really being pushy as to give me a project.

McLean Robbins: I think that's great. And I've learned even recently I used to sort of just comment or like articles, and now I'm sharing them to my network and adding maybe a paragraph of my own thoughts to it. And the activity on my page has just exploded in recent weeks because people have got extra time to go in. And if they see thoughtful commentary, they're engaging with it. I found tagging other individuals that might be interested so that it pops into their feed. But sometimes people that I haven't engaged (with) within two or three years are coming into the feed or from different walks of life or engaging. I love that activity breeds activity. What types of posts have you seen the most successful in terms of activity or is it telling people about services or is it more than thought leadership blog post style?

Amy O'Donnell: I think I think it's thought leadership you know that can be defined in lots of different ways. But if you are a panelist on something, if you're a and I know we have some content in our marketing stuff about doing a podcast or you know is out there to help you understand how to write a blog post and to be thoughtful about those certain areas. I mean, remember, we're talking about consulting, right? So consultants are people that are going to teach a business something or do something for them. So you have to kind of establish yourself as someone that a business would want to go to for advice. And I think that stuff is the way to do it. But the other thing in this world, McLean, you mentioned you're seeing lots of activity on LinkedIn, which I am, too. I think, again, the Covid world has increased that in a good way because people are looking for that interaction and probably looking at LinkedIn more than they used to, maybe just because they have the time. But I'm seeing a lot of social stuff out there, too, like sharing, you know, pro bono work. So maybe now is a good time to offer your services somewhere for free. Certain businesses that maybe couldn't afford it, but you're going to do a website for them or help them with their marketing or things like that. You can share as well. And I'm seeing a lot of people doing that. I don't know if you've seen that, but I've seen a lot.

McLean Robbins: Yeah, I think that's great because I think the question that I've seen it come up a couple of times throughout these types of scenarios is I'm out of work and I don't have something new but that pro bono gives you work experience to share. And then you don't have to say, I'm using that, I've seen that I'm looking for jobs on LinkedIn, which is great, but now I'm still doing something.

Amy O'Donnell: But maybe your activity feed is about volunteering.

McLean Robbins: Yup, you're being active in the community.

Amy O'Donnell: Yes, exactly. You're still active.

McLean Robbins: A couple of things have come in the chat and I think some are some tips which I like. Peter says that he posts on his company's blog and then links to it on LinkedIn with the too long didn't read (the) summary. And I love that sort of five things to know about what I said in 2000 words. Eddie is thinking about getting a veteran-owned certification and getting sort of into a niche might help when more work. And he asks about your opinion. But I would think getting certification, this is the time to do it, learn a new skill or advertise that you have really good experience in an area.

Amy O'Donnell: Yeah. Now, I definitely and especially any type of certification like the veteran status you know companies have to funnel a certain amount of work to those organizations. So that can really help you have a leg up. Make sure that you let everybody know that you're open for that type of work now, too, because you might fall into some other bucket with them that they hadn't even used you for before.

McLean Robbins: Yeah, I think that's wonderful. We're getting a lot of actual feedback here in the chat about the pro bono work. Somebody says they had success. They actually got a client as a result. And makes a really nice point that if you know you're worth, you could limit it to two to four hours, followed by your rate, which I do love. I found that sometimes when you say it's free, you want to set up your boundaries.

Amy O'Donnell: You got to put a box around it, right? Yeah, I can't, it can't take you hours and hours.

McLean Robbins: Yeah. So now we're talking (about) just one other question here. Do you think (the) LinkedIn premium is worth the expense? I tend to say it is, even when they (do) not job searching. But I'm curious, your thoughts? 

Amy O'Donnell: I don't think it cost very much. And the other thing that I think you get with it, I personally like seeing who looked at you.

McLean Robbins: I like to know that.

Amy O'Donnell: At times, by seeing that you're like, wow, maybe this is a buyer who's kind of just kind of looking around out there. They're browsing, but you might be able to turn that into something. And then the other thing, too, is if you are going to be marketing your services, you're going to get emails with that. And you want to be able to get people to people who you're not connected to.

McLean Robbins: That's great. So let's talk a little bit about, you know, it's outside your warehouse. You don't necessarily have a contact, but you're applying for an actual role here. How are you, how can you be selective about what you apply for in today's climate where you were saying, do I throw everything at the wall or do I get really laser focused?

Amy O'Donnell: Yeah, I think when you are doing your outreach, I'd say you should be pretty laser focused and some type that's hard for consultants because they have so many skills and they want to make sure that people know what all of them are. But when you're marketing yourself, you need to tell that client how to use you and be pretty specific. When you're applying to roles, I think you can apply to a myriad of roles. But one of the things that I really would suggest is that you don't just apply to everything you see and if you do it with one company, honestly, they can see that. The recruiters a lot of times, and then and then sometimes your name comes up and they just go, oh, it's that you might even...

McLean Robbins: They can see I've applied to 25 things.

Amy O'Donnell: It is the same person. Right.

Amy O'Donnell: Hmm, could they see it across other companies or just one company?

Amy O'Donnell: No just their own. But I just think it's that there's one hundred recruiters there and all the different jobs that you're applying to, they all can't see. But a lot of times they do. They notice that somebody is just and you know, let me tell you why that does annoy them a bit. If you have one hundred people that apply to something, those recruiters have to get through those applications. And when people just not thoughtfully apply to stuff like, sure, they know they're not really a match, but they think, well, maybe if you're really far off from what they're looking for, that actually I don't think it helps anybody. Very seldom does that like say, oh, gee, I think I'm going to call this person for something else. So I would say be thoughtful into what you do apply for. I think you can go broad. I also would suggest having a master resume, which I don't see too many people do, doing especially consultants have so much experience in different project worlds then if you do have different experience for some of these other projects, tailor your resume in a way to do that is have a master resume that you can quickly pick and pull. What's going to be done with health care or whatever that wreck is asking for? You're going to have better luck that way.

McLean Robbins: Like the six page resume that you narrowed down to two. I think that I learned that fairly recently. I think that's a great tip here if you're using a little bit of terminology. But I think the attendees will know that I want to make sure they get. So there's a hiring manager and there's a recruiter and sometimes the hiring manager is doing the recruiting. But oftentimes companies have a specific recruiting function that the hiring managers say, hey, go find me this person. And there are some more skilled, which is doing the majority of the recruiting now. And I miss the nuance between the two roles.

Amy O'Donnell: No, you didn't. And I think it's all companies. I'll do it differently. So in our marketplace, for instance, we have several clients that actually have recruiters or program offices that are running that. And there's reasons for that, you know the managers are busy and they basically will get some of the need from a manager and decide, are we going to direct source this role or should it go to a different vendor? So they're making that decision. And you are dealing with recruiters in that realm or the program office in procurement. But then we have other pockets where managers aren't on their terms. When I see managers using marketplaces and systems the most on their own or even LinkedIn is when they hire a couple of the same kinds. They know that there's these three roles that they always need and they need a lot of. And so they want to build a community of that. So I think it's important to know who you're dealing with. If you're dealing with the hiring manager, you're obviously going to conduct yourself probably a little differently than if you are with a recruiter. But realize that hiring managers might not have the time to follow up on all the resumes as diligently as a recruiter would, because recruiters that's their job. That that's their life. That's what they're doing all day.

McLean Robbins: Yeah, I love a recruiter because they may come back to me for another job. Believe it or not, hiring managers likely won't. But I think when you get right to the hiring manager, you know, what the job is.

Amy O'Donnell: Well, now you're with a decision maker. And so, again, when you talk about the outreach, I think that that's that's who I would be sending because who's the ultimate buyer of most consulting projects as a manager? It's like they have a need. They have a project that needs to get done and they need to augment it. So that is your ideal person because they're the decision maker. But in a lot of these situations, you've got to get through a couple other people in order to get to that decision maker.

McLean Robbins: I want to talk a little bit on that getting through concept in just a second. But I do see one question from Rebecca here that I think is sort of useful. And she asks, what is the universe of projects available during the pandemic? And basically the question is, what are we buying for right now? You want to give a little you've seen some of this hands on our system soi I'm curious on what you're saying.

Amy O'Donnell: Yeah, so I am actually seeing the industry and by pockets. It's like in some industries there's a lot you know this contact tracing is big and all the states and, you know, there's a lot of state government projects being given out, all related to Covid compliance, contact tracing, things like that. So we're seeing that I'm seeing technology still I mean, again, with having to get all these infrastructures in place and everything to the cloud and all of the Zoom sort of things. I mean, we're still seeing that being pretty rich. I think there are not a lot of wrecks out there that I would say, not not just for contractors, but I think the strings have been pulled and a lot of big companies for no full time hiring. And what they've tried to do is not furlough or lay off lots of people. And so they've kept them on their bench and they're trying to reuse people. In the past, I think they were busy and they would go and get contractors and bring them on. So we're seeing a little bit of that on the contract world, kind of slow down because they're trying to reuse who they have. But I also think now is probably a great time to think about the hiring managers that are strapped and don't have any racks or headcount, but might be able to sell a project to their boss or their CFO on work that still needs to get done.

McLean Robbins: Great. So what I'm what I'm hearing from you is a couple of really interesting things I'm hearing, just because there's no job out there doesn't mean I shouldn't reach out to my network. And then if I've worked with an enterprise before, now's the time to go back to that point of contact that I work with and say, hey, I'm available, particularly on the strategy side. I know you guys might need help. I'm sort of proactively telling you I'm here, what can I do? Or put together a little bit of a pitch or ask for a call. Do that cold outreach.

Amy O'Donnell: And be empathetic, because really the people that are still in these companies are strapped because they've lost lots of employees. And some things are pivoting. Strategy is changing this change management stuff and maybe even reaching out to some of the people you've worked with in the past and an empathetic way of like, hey, I know this might be a tough time if there's anything I can do to help, even in a small way, small projects, take smaller bites of things you might be surprised.

McLean Robbins: I'm really surprised with that, I think just the honesty that I'm getting when I talk to people these days, many people say, oh, my cousin died or my, things that I typically wouldn't hear from people when I reach out. That trust now is getting built really fast and people are being very honest. So it's that empathy goes a long way.

Amy O'Donnell: You know, McLean, one other point that I don't know where I'll get this in, so I think I'll grab it now. Looking at what's going on with businesses with either private equity vs. acquisitions. So follow what's going on, like some businesses have folded or into another one or are reorganizing. Any time that happens there's work. And maybe it's the board. Maybe it's the private equity team that comes into a company that they went in there for a reason and they're investing. Maybe that means their strategy works. So like I suggest, people keep your eye on what's going on with your clients in your industries and look for ideas where there might be opportunity and come at it from a where could you offer your services in a helping way based on what's going on with that business?

McLean Robbins: I think that's great. That's where you're, I use Feedly, that's where your Google alerts really come in. We certainly monitor the industry news around our industry and sometimes we find things you just wouldn't expect. I want to talk a little bit more about the fact that this is a crowded market. People are busy, people are overwhelmed, and I think people are just overwhelmed with life right now. So walking that fine line of having empathy, great. But how do I follow up without stalking in this crowded space?

Amy O'Donnell: I think part of that, it goes back to being able to talk about the value that you can create. You know, if you're just knocking on the door with a resume and you're kind of bothering people to follow up and you're not really talking about what is affecting their business or how you can help them take their business to that next level and creating that urgency based on the value. I think you're not going to get anywhere if you're just knocking on doors saying, I saw you had a project posting, I haven't heard anything. If you haven't heard anything, there's something going on within that business that maybe they're not allowed to hire for it. Maybe something, maybe they use somebody internally. There's all number of reasons that things happen with rocks. But I think the value creation of what you can bring to that business or that hiring manager can help separate you from the crowd, because I don't see a lot of people doing that. I think people are still knocking on the door with resumes.

McLean Robbins: That's focusing on the value creation is a really, really important point, and I think we're seeing a lot of people here talking about getting into some of the first projects and the strategy work. Some of these larger endeavors tend to happen when you have a lot of independent consulting experience. So are there any tips you would give to somebody who's newer, an independent consultant who maybe doesn't have a lot of products under their belt, so that's why they're leaving with their resume?


Amy O'Donnell: Yeah, but everybody has projects they did for a full or full time work. So I don't think you have to have been an IC for that. I think talk about a project that you did while you worked with whoever your employer has been. But rather than saying I worked for X, here's what I did and here's how it changed the business.

McLean Robbins: And here's how I can do it for you. That's great. It really projectizing the work that you've done is a skill that people need to learn. I think we talked about that a little bit in the last session. And I know you'll focus on how to describe that in our Section three as well. Yes, that's sort of what recruiters are saying.

Amy O'Donnell: That's not easy. I see the market changing a bit, and I think we're all going to have to start talking in terms of projects versus chronology of resumes as we get more, more and more people in this world. What clients care about is what can you help me with and then then you follow up with resume stuff. They want to know, do you have the credentials to help me with that? But first, identifying what it is that you can do to help their business, I think is really valuable to separate you from the crowd.

McLean Robbins: I think that's that's a really important point. And we see that in our state of independent study we're seeing we call it the cyclical nature of independence because we see people coming in and out of independent work. Maybe they have a relative at home or they have a child they need to care for, somebody or they just say experience a full time job that they can't pass up. And even though they have clients, businesses going while they hop back in. I want to pop into some of these questions here because we're getting just a lot of them in the chat. Stevensons recently got certified and talks about that sort of pigeonholing part certified in data management and he works in retail. And he said, what's the best way to let people in other industries know about the certification and not get ignored because I really have experience in retail. I want them to focus on my new certification and not my past experience.

Amy O'Donnell: Yeah, well, I think you can talk about what you can do with that certification and don't leave with I mean, if you can push the industry to the background, meaning there's lots of roles--marketing, recruiting is one that can go across industries. So, you know, if your new certification is something that could be utilized in health care and it's about the certification, then talk about the things that you learned or learned how to do in that pro bono. Another idea, you want to work in a certain industry that you don't have experience in, you know, maybe it's a doctor's office or something small, but like find a way to get a little bit of experience under your belt in that industry that you want to go into if you're not hearing from people based on just that certification.

McLean Robbins: I think that's that's great, use it as a hook and and I before I came to join and be out here, gosh, it's been a long time now, but I was mostly in hospitality and I had been in health care a couple of stints. And I found that I was really successful when I said, listen, I've worked in five different verticals and all that demonstrates is that I can learn yours just as fast as I learned the other one. I ask a lot of the questions through.

Amy O'Donnell: And you know what? If you look at today's markets, even with all this Covid stuff has brought up new polls and things we've never heard of. The point is, people have to be able to learn because...

McLean Robbins: because your markets are gonna change.

Amy O'Donnell: Yeah, exactly. Whatever we're all doing today is going to be different five years from now. So folks understand that that's what's important behaviorally is being a study or being able to pick up new things and new industries. I think more and more businesses understand that's what's important.

McLean Robbins: I think that's great. And so we have a question here that says, is it necessary to go to end clients to or could you work sort of with a product vendor that specializes in getting in, getting in? I think the answer is yes. You could partner with the vendor, you know, work with a client and use that as your sort of...

Amy O'Donnell: That's actually that's actually a great idea. There are a lot of companies out there that want to sell their software but don't want to do implementation or any type of business analysis around certain things. And, you know, hey, it doesn't hurt it. Maybe understanding who the salespeople in that organization are closing all the deals. Their clients are the ones that are in need of some of those kinds of services. So yeah and you know actually a lot of them have some partnering programs where you can get certified. It's only helpful for them, for more people to know their platform and go out there and try to implement it. And they will refer to you in some cases.

McLean Robbins: And that's something we're saying in one of our enterprise subject matter expert communities. We're talking with one of the heads of that the other day. And he said that training has also been a really big thing. So you just bought this software. Now I have brought consultants in to go in and show you how to actually use it. So implementation sort of expert services are there as well. So we have a question, somebody who's worked through the Millennium Challenge Corporation, so one of our consultants says, how can you, you or MBO partners help us find new consulting opportunities? So without making it a commercial, you talk about some of the ways that our consultants can see what we have available.

Amy O'Donnell: What we do well, we have our marketplace, which really is for our enterprise clients or even other small businesses. Some of our advantage members, some of our other communities are on there. So what MBO tries to do is create the environment for people who are independent consultants to go and connect with clients. We're not I mean, I'll be the first one to tell you we're not a placement agency. We're not going to represent anybody. We try to create that enablement and invite with things like this webinar helping you understand what I should look like on LinkedIn, what type of services could I sell? And then giving you we've got that backbone of that contract vehicle. We make sure you're compliant and any of these large companies feel comfortable using you covered by insurance, all of those sorts of things. So you can look in the marketplace and you can look across clients that MBO might have contracts with already. But our service is really one where we're kind of more into the enablement of helping you market yourself.

McLean Robbins: Once you have that project, we make it really easy for you to get in with the enterprise, to be compliant and certified. I'll touch on the advantage component and a couple of ways that people who are interested in getting together can find more work. MBO advantage for those of you who don't know is our service for, I'm going to call it our most experienced talent, really geared towards those people who have good experience in their business. They know what they're doing. They don't have issues getting projects and they've been there really long. While they want somebody to run their business we'll help them set up with their business entity. But we're facilitating among that group monthly networking sessions. We had one earlier this week. And the thing that I find most interesting is that these members are really interested in teaming with each other. So coming in and then going into pitch. So an idea that I've seen happen successfully, a lot of people are asking how they can get jobs and the chat is to partner with a couple of other independents and say, I can do this. I have three other people who can do this. So you can sell that full scope of the project and not just put the onus on the enterprise to have to go find four people that compliment your skill set. You bring that in and then…

Amy O'Donnell: I see a lot more of that because what that infrastructure is when you think about it, there are not employees anywhere. These are micro-businesses that are partnering together to deliver services to large companies that actually can probably do it much more inexpensively compared to larger companies that have all of that infrastructure. Structure and overhead. So there's a lot of advantage to doing

McLean Robbins: Well, and the advantage of doing it through MBO is so nice. It's very easy to pay people how they want to be structured to take a pay cut if you found the work, etc. So that's great. There is also for those of you who are interested outside of the Advantage Program, we do have a group called the Independent Consultants Group on LinkedIn as well. It's as active as you guys want to make it. So if you want to try to drive some network networking among yourselves, that's a great place to start. And I will pop in after this webinar and approve anybody who wants to join.

Amy O'Donnell: And you know what's nice about that, too? McClaine, I'll just add is that at least, you know, when you're dealing with that MBO community on top of these, they're very like you're out, you're with like-minded.

McLean Robbins: They're professionals. Yeah. These people have really good skills that have worked with our enterprise clients. So it's that trust factor. Again, I think that's a thing that you're really trying to build. A couple of additional questions here. How do you get employers to hire my company and work as a contractor instead of hiring me as an employee? So many aren't interested in me being a man. They want me as an employee. How would you negotiate that?

Amy O'Donnell: Well, if you're dealing with it sounds like you're in demand then. So with hiring managers that want to use their services, I think those are the people that you want to go to bat for you to their company and say, what difference does it make? I'm assuming you're saying that the managers want that because I'm seeing more companies not care about the work or like which then you come through, but they care about the work. So they'll use you as an employee or they'll use you as a 10/99. In fact, some of our enterprise clients have these PMO offices there for that exact reason, meaning tell me what you want to do and what the project in the work is. And then we try to, they'll try to source it with either. So I think my advice here would be if you're going to get anywhere, it's not going to be with HR procurement. It's going to be with who is your buyer than your business.

McLean Robbins: I think that's very well put. I have a question for Jim and it says, What countries outside of the US do you work in? And with independent consultants, he's from the UK. We can do business and I think it's more than 80 at this point. Countries, if our clients have projects, but we don't tend to advertise those products as often. But our most of our enterprise organizations we can support,

Amy O'Donnell: Those are part of our enterprise organization that is referring us people to the platform and they need to pay them in different countries. We are talking to some of them now about putting together a marketplace for some of those. So hopefully what you'll see to come is some projects actually posted within the UK and other areas. We don't have that today, but we do have the ability to pay people within that platform

McLean Robbins: That's a good stay tuned in to come.

Amy O'Donnell: We are and we are doing a lot with international expansion.

McLean Robbins: That's excellent. And then one more question here from Jeff says, I've noticed the largest commented posts are around frustration, working with recruiters. Many people share the same issues. What can we do to help make recruiters more effective for all parties?

Amy O'Donnell: Yeah, so I guess I would say, first of all, people don't really understand how Wrex gets into a system or what the recruiters are really working on. So how the process works and it's broken, it's not wonderful, but they are given. Sometimes they have to sell eight to 10 jobs a month and they're putting stuff out there and getting through their applications as best they can. But once they find three or four people that they think the hiring manager might like, there could be 80 other applications there. They don't have time to go through the rest of this. So how can you help them? Number one, I would say make your resume or your LinkedIn or whatever it is, stand out to that one person that they went to and they open your resume and they're like, wow, this person really fits. And I want to go to the hiring manager with this. They really have to look through lots of stuff in short periods of time in order to hit some of the numbers that they need to hit. And so what goes along with that is what people will refer to as a black hole. You're not going to hear about every job that's out there. And sometimes there are jobs out there that people intend to fill. Then they said, well, let's advertise for, oh, wait a minute, we're going to fill in terms like there are stops and starts, it happens with recruiters all the time that are frustrated with two. They have candidates hanging there. Somebody told them to go look for something and they did it and. And now it's like, wait a minute, I'm not sure if we can hire that and that happens and I know that's frustrating. We hear from our consultants a lot that they'd like to get some insight or know what happened. And the reality is, like when you're an employee, they are going to give you feedback as to how you're doing when you're microbusiness, companies just aren't going to resource for kind of telling us why you got that project or you didn't.

McLean Robbins: Yeah, and that's something we find in our plan of choice data as well, that independents really want that sort of feedback. They want to feel part of the team. Unfortunately, they're just not getting it. But I will say that at least on the enterprise side, we're working to educate our clients. This would be helpful and help them move towards that. That's our desired client of choice status. I said we were going to do the end and then a flood of questions came out and people thought they were missing their chance here. So a really good question from Rodney. You just say, what's the best strategy for finding remote gigs given the pandemic and needing to stay at home? The data that I'm showing is saying that companies are actually more remote friendly than ever. But are you saying that?

Amy O'Donnell: That is a great question. And here's what I would suggest for everybody. Companies still haven't caught up to reality. We're seeing them say, well, I know we're working the pandemic right now, but, you know, we still really want somebody in Los Angeles for when we all go back to work. And yet you'll ask them, well, what do you think you guys are going back to work? Oh, probably not for six months. How long is the project? Three months. So guess what, those I would offer your services in and still apply to saying, hey, if this is a three month project and we're still in this world, I think that this pandemic in some ways has helped more organizations to see you can get work done remotely. And I think that's going to explode for all RICs if that's the case, because when clients ask us, do you have X, Y, Z skills and we look at it, whether it's in our marketplace or the rest of our platform, location is probably the number one deterrent of like, yeah, I have that, but it's not where you want it. So the more we can get clients to see that we can do distributed work really well. And I think we're on the cusp of just so you know, I'm always pushing them going, well, I think you could probably get away with doing this project with remote talent and wow, look at the talent that you have if you're looking nationwide, not just in your backyard.

McLean Robbins: I think that's really critical. I drive me crazy when people say you have to be within driving distance, but you're not going to come in. And I've also found but sometimes just saying I'm happy to travel when needed will solve that issue. A couple of other points coming in here. Peter makes a really nice point about those who are transitioning from full time to consulting work. We have a bill rate calculator on our website that will help you translate what you want to make of what you are going to be spending on different expenses and then how much you should charge per hour. And so we can link that one up for you guys.

Amy O'Donnell: That is actually, Peter, that's a really great point, because sometimes people learn the hard way on their first project that they didn't price it right because they didn't understand all the pieces. So, yeah, that that's an important thing to really understand what your true rate is that you walk away with

McLean Robbins: Accounting for taxes and all the other fees are good. Somebody says they could have used pretty compelling case studies and blogs. Do we know copywriters and editors who understand the consulting space? And then I see another question on what's the experience with LinkedIn ProFinder or so first is, yes, ProFinder's there. But my thought is that's a great way to use the independent consultant's group on LinkedIn. Post it. You'll get other people who've worked within the platform. I'm going to link here in the chat some of the members have an advantage. I know we have at least one or two communications people on that platform.

Amy O'Donnell: Yeah. And I will say go ahead and do that, because across our platform, when I look across our marketplace, at least we have many, many copywriters across US industries. That is a role that has been able to be remote. So as a result, there are lots of and so we've created a pretty good community there of those types of people. So I agree with McLean like if you reach out for that, I think there are services that you all can help each other with.

McLean Robbins: We've had some good success in finding them, even for our own work, just within our network. The question for client outreach just is just sending a resume and a pitch deck. What would you do to go ahead and build that one sheeter or that sort of marketing materials that go along with your resume?

Amy O'Donnell: So I would say that when we talked about this last time a little bit, it's being concise about what it is. You do hear the types of things to call me for, what I find with a lot of resumes or things that I look at, I'm spending time trying to figure out how I would use this person? Like, what's that? What would be the best projects for them? And you need to be able to tell them what that is if you want to catch their attention. So my guess my best advice there is to start with the end in mind. What type of work can you help them with? And then you get to your credentials because that's what they think about first, what's the project? And then next will be if this person has the best credentials to deliver this work and not for the resume coming in?

McLean Robbins: I think that's really great. So let's see here. I have not some intern responses when I've submitted to the marketplace. And is this being looked at to foster a more partnership-friendly environment? And this is from Allen. We were just talking about this before the recession started.

Amy O'Donnell: And I'm happy to respond to that same thing with full-time jobs. Just so you know, jobs in general. Lots of people apply to many things and they don't hear anything. And so number 1, I would say, don't take it personally. We are building the best for her clients that we're encouraging them. And remember, this is their marketplace. We are trying to create this platform. Where you come in and put your projects so consultants and ICs can get together there, so we are running their marketplace, we are providing the environment and we are giving them best practices around. Yes, we do give reports and stats on how many people have applied to a certain wreck and might not have gotten dispositioned or heard anything let's say if we're going to put up. We have some wrecks out there now that I've worked with one of our clients that we have called out as being talent pulling meaning, hey, we're creating a community that we want to hear from you for future work. Don't have work right now. But when you're applying to that, you should be understanding that you're probably not going to hear anything today. But what they're trying to do is a pipeline and get people, you know, kind of into their bench for when that project comes. Now, they have 90 people sit in. There that they know are interested and have the skillset and they can go there quickly, so I guess my answer to that is realized to some extent, could we get the entire world to answer every person who applies to an opportunity full time or contract? Probably not. So we try with a client of choice. As McLean said, we don't want Rex out there that isn't real. We're encouraging them to really put stuff out there that they're interested in or close it or put it on hold. We're not going to ever be one hundred percent there.

McLean Robbins: I think we've made good strides, though. You know, I would say that Rex and the system are there. The question is at the top priority. And as you pointed out, something in the last session that I will note I'm increasingly seeing all across all platforms, Rex, that is labeled as a talent pool in your future opportunities. And that's a really real thing. Clients are saying, I'm not looking for it today, but when I'm ready, I want people to know quite quickly. So just note that it'll probably be in the description. So there's a chance that you may not be around because it's actually a pool rack,

Amy O'Donnell: Which again, I would say there's nothing wrong with. What they're trying to do is cut how quickly when that big project comes in, how quickly they can respond to it.

McLean Robbins: I think that's huge. A couple of just general points here in the questions, Victor says that he had a firm at one point he had eight professional engineers and he found them difficult to keep because of varying interests. And so he says, how can I successfully assemble partnerships but sort of on an ad hoc basis? And I would say that that's something that we see the members in advantage doing really nicely, is that they've been together. They do their project. We have a really nice vehicle for them to serve that project up. And then they all go off and sell their own business and they may never come back together. But that's then the onus is on you to keep them. Is there any other way that you're seeing this happen on our platform? Well, yeah,

Amy O'Donnell: I think that we are the perfect environment for that because you are working within all people who understand that they're independent contractors. It sounds like you had some people which they're still out there. People are just more comfortable working full time, and want that security. And that's OK. But the onus was on you then to keep them busy all the time. And so what's different when you put together a team with the independent contracting world is everybody understands we're working together for this project. And when this project's over, you know, maybe they're on this webinar because they know they have to go find their next one. And maybe that would be for you, but it's not this expectation that it has to be, so I think it's right for that.

McLean Robbins: That's great. So because we're sort of coming up on time, I have just two quick-fire questions that I have. So Christian says, when you say you have the credentials to deliver, are you referring to things like a 70/30 split of education or experience or something else? So what in your mind determines credentials? I think that's sort of in your head. Do you have the credentials and do you feel confident you can do a good job on the project? Plus, have you done it before?

Amy O'Donnell: Yeah, well, what we do on a resume when we're looking at we know what the project is, we know what the manager's looking for. We know the expertise that we're thinking these people should have. When we look at the resume, we want to see, you know, if the role. Was for an Oracle implementation, when you look at the resume, you want to see, oh, this person has done X amount of Oracle implementations, maybe not exactly in the same environment, but they have some something to foundation to draw, and that makes it reasonable that you would believe they could deliver this project work. So that's what I'm talking about when I mean credentials. Certification sometimes, I mean, I guess it depends on the technology, sometimes there's that, but it's whatever it is on paper that can prove that there's a good chance of success that this person's going to be able to deliver.

McLean Robbins: I think that's really important. And again, if you don't have the experience, you've talked about some ways to go get it. You've talked about the pro bono work, sort of speculative pitching. And the last one from Jane. And she says When I search on indeed, contract jobs are just less common than full-time jobs. Should I apply for full-time jobs when I want contract jobs or so I guess let's cover searching on MBO and then just reasserting the limitations of that?

Yeah, the reason you don't see that many contract jobs on indeed is because organizations are not set up today. That's what we're trying to do, is direct sourcing to really source that. So usually Indeed is going to be full-time because that's what the internal HR groups, that's where they are contract jobs are either going to. Staffing companies depending on the level of consulting companies, and that's where our marketplace is trying to sit in the middle of it and have the client put wrecks out there that they can direct source on for contract roles. So that's why you don't see those on Indeed very often. There's nothing wrong with it. I think we actually have an advantage member if I'm right. McLean applied to or found a contract by going to a full time seeing a full-time need for one of our clients and reaching out somehow on LinkedIn, he figured out who the hiring manager was and he's on billing there right now. He knew he had a contract with this company so he could easily write that. And the role initially was positioned as full-time. Now, he didn't go to the recruiter. He ended up going to the manager and maybe he was as good at doing that. But, yeah, sometimes full-time roles could turn into contracts.

McLean Robbins: And I will point out to you that this is an example of how MBO's streamline the process. I heard from another advantaged member earlier this week and she said I went to the client and I said, this is what I want to do. And they said we want to bring you on full time. It's really hard to work as an approved vendor for this company. And she said, actually, I work through MBO partners and MBO Partners is an approved vendor. She used our MSA to get in there. And at that point, the hiring manager for the company didn't actually even know because it's such a big organization. They weren't aware that we were a vendor. But the minute she said it, it streamlined the process. And we just had one last question, which I can address quickly. It said, Do you publish a list of your contractors or do you only send them to clients? So we actually don't proactively send our list of contractors to clients either. As I said, you're welcome to join our LinkedIn group. There's no large network right now where all the contractors can see each other. We definitely are, or that's something we're considering doing. But if you have interest in knowing if we have a contract with a client, with an enterprise client, ask your client care manager and they can certainly provide you that information. And if you don't, we're always happy to work to get an honest and approved vendor there as well. If you're bringing work in and want our help, so please reach out. So we're going to launch one quick poll here at the end. Just asking if anybody wants to hear about any of these programs, check the box or reach out to you proactively. But Amy, thank you so much for your time. Is there anything I missed asking today?

Amy O'Donnell I don't think so. I think my only other pitch on the pro bono was also to mentor people. And I think if you offer help to people, good things happened

McLean Robbins that's really nice. If you could do it.

Amy O'Donnell Yeah.

McLean Robbins I find I'm always happy to reach out and help somebody to, if they're in my life, my alumni network or something like that. So just a quick reminder, we do have August 20th. We have our 3rd session for this. And Amy promised is actually going to go in and show you what a recruiter sees. So you're going to see some live tack on that one, which is really, really fun. Of course, you can ask any questions you want and we will send a recording of this to everybody else. So thank you, Amy, for being with us. Thank you, everybody, for joining today. And we will hear from you again soon. Have a good one.

Amy O'Donnell Thanks, guys. Have a great day.