In our series of articles to help professionals to decide if becoming a Freelancer (or Independent Consultant), we have not yet found content that deal with the personality of the Consultant. Once Again MBO Partners library has produced a great article dealing with Introverts.
My own personal note on this is, being an introvert myself, there is confusion in the market in identifying what is an introvert, how to differentiate from extroverts without making confusion with shy people that not necessarily are introverts, or introvert people that are not necessarily shy.
And this is a huge difference when reading articles like this, to know yourself better and, most important, how o deal with the issue.
June 28, 2017
When thinking of personality traits that make a successful independent consultant, “outgoing,” “social,” or “extroverted” may come to mind. While those who enjoy networking and interacting with others may be at an advantage when it comes to self-promotion or meeting new people, it that doesn’t mean that a natural introvert—or a shy extrovert—can’t succeed as an independent consultant.
The difference between introverts and extroverts isn’t that introverts are reserved and quiet while extroverts are enthusiastic and outgoing, it’s how each gains energy. While a social environment will fuel an extrovert, introverts recharge by being on their own. Here are three ways to use your unique characteristics to your advantage as an introverted independent consultant.
Focus on Your Strengths
Some people may find the benefits of independent consulting attractive, but ultimately conclude that their introverted personality makes them a poor candidate for this career path. However, many introvert qualities are valuable traits when it comes to self-employment. For instance, introverts may be better mentally equipped to not only handle the isolation that comes with working alone, but to actually embrace and benefit from it. Instead of worrying about what you can’t do, focus on the qualities that you do have and use them to your advantage.
Introverts may not be social butterflies, but they are able to build a large network of contacts as quickly and as easily as extroverts. Remember, introverted doesn’t mean antisocial. Introverts tend to excel at building strong, lasting, one-on-one relationships. That type of rapport can easily translate into loyal, long-term clients. Strong client bonds can also lead to referrals and word-of-mouth recommendations.
While introverts may be more reserved, they tend to be good listeners and analytical thinkers. These are valuable traits that can be helpful when it comes to selling your services. When working closely with clients to develop a solution, being able to read people using nonverbal cues can put you at an advantage. By listening carefully and using their intuition, introverts can impress a potential client with a detailed proposal, or gain their trust with a plan that speaks to exactly what they are looking for.
Make Your Weaknesses More Approachable There is a reason why independent consulting is often considered an extrovert’s field: the ability to network and strengthen relationships in a face-to-face setting is invaluable. If you’re the type of person who tends to dread these situations, there are ways to successfully network without having an extroverted personality.
Creating and practicing a short elevator speech before a networking event can be very beneficial for introverts. When you know exactly what you need to say, it can be less nerve-wracking when it’s time to speak to someone.
Another helpful strategy is to have a few questions and short conversation starters in mind that you can ask people you meet. Focus on presenting a friendly and approachable demeanor through non-verbal communication; welcoming body language, confident eye contact, and a warm smile can speak volumes.
Introverts tend to work best one-on-one or in a small group setting. Apply these ideas to networking. Make the first move by speaking to the person who is standing alone, or introduce yourself to a small group. Most people at networking events will jump at the chance to talk about what they do, so ease into a conversation by asking a question and listening.
Use Independence to Your Advantage
While networking may be the most obvious and difficult obstacle for introverted independent consultants, challenges also exist in day-to-day business tasks. By employing strategies to manage trying activities or interactions, you can find a way to work within your personal comfort level.
Don’t hesitate to rely on technology to assist you in appropriate situations. If phone calls and in-person meetings are stressful, make email your primary means of communication. Just be sure that your responses are timely, detailed, and clear. Skype or other instant messaging services can also be useful ways to connect with clients when you need to have a more conversational discussion, so long as the client is comfortable with the technology.
Of course, there will always be circumstances that require face-to-face meetings. In these situations, meet clients in a setting that is most comfortable for you—perhaps a quiet coffee shop as opposed to a corporate-feeling meeting room or your home office.
A lot of business marketing and networking can be done online, so use this to your advantage. Keep your LinkedIn profile up-to-date, and use the site to connect and maintain relationships with professional contacts. Promote and market your services using social media, and create a personal website that describes your services, highlights client recommendations, and showcases your portfolio.
Remember, as an independent consultant you’re able to set your own schedule, decide how you run your business, and choose where you work. Introverts bring many benefits to this career path; it’s simply a matter of playing to your strengths and working with your weaknesses. Your independence is a big perk, so use it to your advantage.
Continuing with our series or articles to help on the decisions surrounding the steps to take before being definitively sure about the decision and to know if you are ready, again from MBO Partners (link on their banner) an article all Freelance wannabe should read. Enjoy!
January 26, 2017
Whether you identify as an independent contractor, self-employed professional, freelancer, or entrepreneur, there’s plenty of gratification in knowing that ultimately, you’re your own boss—you work for yourself, you call the shots, and you own your financial destiny.
While you may be confident in your ability to deliver great services and results to clients, it’s important to take a step back and first work through some strategic planning to ensure your business venture is successful. Here are 6 key steps to help you get started.
1. Determine Your Services
While transitioning to independent work is exciting, it is a significant career and life change. Before you begin, you’ll need to define the services or skills you want to offer. Research your industry, see what’s in demand, and configure your services to match market needs. Be confident in your skills and experience; clients will be counting on you to deliver the results you advertise.
In addition to nailing down your offerings, it’s important to put yourself in the right mindset for the additional responsibility that comes with independence. Remember, you’re not only accountable for delivering the work, but also for finding it. Do you have the resilience to hold out for a contract that takes a few weeks to get signed, or the tenacity to use your network to find new clients? Thoroughly thinking through your services and mentally preparing for how you’ll tackle future hurdles will ensure you’re well positioned to begin independent work.
2. Financially Prepare
Financial preparation is key to a smooth transition. Make sure you either have an immediate project to start your cash flow, or a several month cushion of income to cover expenses until you bring in a contract. Keep in mind that even if you land a project, 60-day terms are common—so don’t expect to get paid right away. As you think through your financial expectations, learn how to set the right bill rate so you maintain realistic expectations and charge the right amount for your services.
In addition to income, plan how to best protect yourself, your family, your business, and your retirement. Look into health insurance options available to independent consultants, and be sure to account for about business insurances you may need such as General Liability, Errors and Omissions, and Workers Compensation. As you get started, be initially conservative with spending; instead of making sure your business has all the bells and whistles, focus on getting out there and securing work.
3. Test it Out
If you’re able, join the 12+ million independent workers who do so on a part-time basis to test out independence. In doing so, you can get a feel for contractor life with a safety net. Start reaching out to your network, build confidence, and develop your portfolio with side projects. If you’re currently working, tread lightly, being sure not to violate your current employment contract.
If moonlighting isn’t an option, meet with a trusted advisor or mentor who can provide guidance and feedback on your plan. Look for someone who has made a similar transition in the past and run your planned offering, messaging, and marketing ideas by them.
4. Outline Your Business
StructureWhile you can’t go wrong with a formal business plan, at the very least you should have a short—12-month—and a long—3-year—roadmap in place. Outline your services, your target clientele and how you plan to reach them, a plan for landing you first contract, how you’ll price your services and why, how you’ll utilize contracts, when and where you want to work, and income and personal development goals.
5. Land Your First Client
You’ll need to find clients early on who will provide enough work to sustain your income. Clients may be people from your professional or social networks, or they may come through word-of-mouth referrals. Pitch your business to employers, peers, colleagues, and friends—you never know who may be in need of your services.
Keep in mind that as an individual worker, you may be initially limited to projects of a certain size—i.e., ones you can handle on your own. However, once you get rolling and find the right balance, you’ll find you have the flexibility to choose the projects you want, and even partner with other independents to take on larger projects or more work.
6. Market Your Business
When you know what direction your business is headed and perhaps have a few projects underway, start thinking about how to best sell what you’ve built. A marketing plan will help you step back, take a look at your business as a whole, and align business goals, such as growing revenue or expanding your service offerings, with marketing objectives.
To start, develop materials that present your skills and credentials—an attractive resume, a website outlining your services, appropriate social profiles, and business cards. As you position yourself as an expert in your field, you can also network by sharing your expertise. Volunteer to participate on panels or webinars, and contribute content to blogs and articles.
While it can be challenging to put the processes and systems in place to become self-sustaining, stay motivated knowing you have the potential to grow a successful, profitable company.
No matter what the industry, more professional relationships mean more business — and the biggest boost to a business comes from trusted acquaintances that know your work and advocate for you. This is what we call your "business network". Referral Key helps you leverage your existing business network to generate highly qualified referral leads — and allows you to easily expand your professional network to establish new referral relationships that support ongoing growth of your business.
With Referral Key, you can quickly and easily build a business network of referral colleagues who know and trust you, inviting them to exchange referrals with you. Once your colleagues accept your invitations to exchange referrals, they will begin sending you solid leads.
The result is a web-enabled closed loop that provides a steady stream of timely, qualified leads from your trusted colleagues -- and a much higher probability of converting these leads into actual revenue. Every step of the referral marketing process, from initiating a referral to following up is automatically tracked within Referral Key.
Referral Key also makes it easy to expand your referral network by allowing you to tap into your colleagues' business network. Each member indicates which colleagues in their business network can be browsed by others. You can then proactively approach these business professionals about establishing a new referral relationship. Other features let you track referrals to ensure your relationships are reciprocal and the ability to set up promotional campaigns to reward your most profitable referral partners and customers.
When you sign up for Referral Key, you're also invited to add your business profile to the Referral Key on-line Member Directory. This valuable benefit lets you showcase your unique business offering to other professionals seeking to establish new referral relationships — as well as to potential prospects seeking the products and services you provide.
With our Free Membership you can join today, spend a few minutes setting up your referral network and begin exchanging referrals in no time. Take the quick Referral Key Tour to learn more!
July 25, 2017
© Copyright 2018 MBO Partners
A blog is more than something to update with your weekly experiences as an independent professional—it’s an opportunity to engage and grow your target audience. Blogging is a great way to showcase your expertise, bring in potential clients, and grow your personal brand. In fact, 53% of marketers say blog content creation is their top inbound marketing priority.
Blogs are simple to create and maintain, and can help you market your business while building your brand and audience. Here are four reasons to consider making a blog a part of your professional website.
1. Engage Your Target Audience
A successful blog engages readers. There’s something about a blog that is simply more believable and personal than reading a company fact sheet. Blogs are a chance for you to share your voice, and show that you know what you’re talking about as a professional in your industry. While some blogs may turn off readers by acting solely as an opinion column, if you back your statements with research and proven facts, you can build trust in your readers.
Potential clients are looking for an independent professional who is knowledgeable. They want to be sure that you’re really an expert before engaging your services. Providing readers not only with information about how you can help them solve their problems, but also with industry advice and updates, will show them you’re someone who cares about your business as well as your clients.
2. Build Brand Awareness
Blogs help build brand awareness, particularly by increasing traffic to your professional website and improving your visibility on search engines like Google. By consistently publishing new content that includes keywords and topics your audience is interested in, your website will appear more frequently in search engines results. Be sure to share any new content you write on your social networks to drive traffic as well.
3. Future Clients
Your blog is an opportunity to provide your target audience with the voice and personality behind the services you offer. By discussing industry news and trends and backing up your opinions with research, you can begin to establish yourself as a go-to authority. When searching for content ideas, think about common questions your clients have, and create helpful posts around these topics. This will help build confidence in your audience, and ensure you are top of mind when they are in need of expertise for a project.
4. Build Strong Relationships
A blog is an ideal place to build strong relationships with existing and future clients. Engage your readers by asking them questions in your posts. Then, encouraging conversation through comments and feedback. Developing a positive rapport with your readers is a great way to develop trust, and it can also help you gain insight into additional questions potential clients have, what they may be looking for in your services, and what types of problems they are dealing with.
The best part about creating and maintaining a blog is that it will continue to produce positive effects for your business in the long-run. So long as you continue to produce quality content, old posts will still be relevant to your audience well into the future.
(We can consider many Frameworks or Methodologies like Agile, PMI, Lean, etc.)
A Developer is suffering with all the pressure of the Universe to have this solution up and running in production within a very short time frame, let's say a week, give or take. Since he knows better, like many developers, he does not need to conceive, design, validate, proof or test the concept or the feasibility of the solution.
Then the developer creates the world in six days, all by himself. Guess what, he runs out of resources or ideas to continue this lone and selfish journey. During a bio-break, he has yet another brilliant idea: he is going to use his own poop to be able to continue. So he grabs as much turd as his hand can take and uses it to fabricate the resource he needs: a man.
Immediately the developer finds out his implementation is flawed, besides being already late and out of resources. The first feedback man gives to the developer is that he needs help, he needs companionship to be able to continue the developer's work. The developer has one out of two options: either he asks help for a weird speaking sneak that is coiled around a tree nearby or try to use whatever the result of his molding turd was.
Well, lacking a better idea and regretting big time for not validating with future users and clients before, he radicalizes and decides to remove a piece of the code from man, and with the rib shaped function he creates the next resource. However, besides having changed radically the code without proper validation, change management and approval, he creates the next resource.
No surprise it was not another man. Both developer and man agreed to use the name woman for this new resource.
Time goes by ...
The system proves to be crap. Nothing works. Man and woman were able to multiply their codes like a fast spreading virus. Developer was helpless and severely criticized everywhere. His only option was unilaterally purge current deployed system and erase it so that a new, better solution could be deployed. This time he decided to work smarter. He asked a group of people to help him. He came to realize it was the family of an old, blind, drunk dude with great skills, just what he needed.
This dude built a gargantuan ship with his bare hands, something never did before, and that will never be replicated in the entire cosmos. Soon the developer purged the entire system, flooding the host machine so that all his mistakes could be erased forever from memory. The family of the dude was responsible to make it all run again. After one year he gave a few coach class tickets to Kangaroos to go live in Australia and the different Penguin families to live in Antarctica.
Developer tells there was a time of productivity and efficiency. Few people believe him. Until all the system went down south once more. The situation was worse than before. The code was full of bugs, many OS vulnerabilities were explored by scammers and other hackers with bad intention.
At the end the developer was totally screwed ... again.
He became depressed, restless, ashamed for being so selfish and arrogant for believing he was all powerful and had all knowledge in the universe. He found no solution, he need to offer himself to sacrifice. The only way to clean up all the shit he did during millennia as a mediocre designer and even worse developer.
So he did. He manipulated the code so that people would think he was someone else and offer himself to sacrifice, and users were happy to do so since they knew this under-performer, unskilled and mediocre developer couldn't ever do any better.
Today we have many great tools, including MSF (I love it still), Agile (Xtrene, Scrum, etc), PMP. PMI. ITIL, ITSM, DevOps none of us has to live through the shame of incompetence and very poor design.
I do not give exceptions: design thinking for conception, Lean or MSF for implementation, ITIL for operations.
To rely on crap when you run of resources is a big sign your product will be the end of the world,
PH - Hune/21/2018 HAPPY SOLSTICE
I have been contacted few times about publishing related articles, texts, thoughts, ideas and recommendations here. You are more than welcome! Actually, it is a honor to have your contributions to this blog.
Again, even though the original idea for this Blog was related to IT Consulting, a whole new segment of "on line freelancing" or similar is booming around the globe.
Also, like many other examples (see eBay sellers), we learned that the more we contribute to each other, the more space we gain, the more opportunities are visible to all of us and also more opportunities are created with the growing quality supply.
Just e-mail me and we go from there.
Untold Work Freedom
Just A Few Clicks AwayLearn to digitize your skill and unlock a true freedom lifestyle through online freelancing
This is what The Freelance Effect site promises.
I was contacted earlier by Jenny Snow about my mention to her site in a post where I listed a series of tools and websites for freelancers.
Jenny said (thank you Jenny!!!) this inspired her to boost the idea and create the ultimate reference. This is what she e-mailed me:
"Since there are so many, we decided to publish a much more thorough, updated and categorized version of that list -- with more than 101 websites, screeshots and descriptions. (It's a real beast!)"
You can check it out here: https://thefreelanceeffect.com/find-freelance-work.
Great job! Amazing indeed.
March 21, 2016
When working with a new client or on a new project, it can be easy to assume that everything is clear and that everyone is on the same page in regard to expectations. However, when it becomes apparent that your client's expectations do not align with your own, both the project and your relationship with your client can be put in jeopardy. Below are a few tips for successfully managing client expectations, both proactively and reactively.
Collaborate in the Early Stages
One of the best ways to ensure that your clients maintain realistic and appropriate expectations is to make sure that they both completely understand the terms of the project and feel that those terms are appropriate and fair. To reach this point, sit down with your clients early on in the process to have a conversation to discuss the project and expectations so that you can reach terms that work for both of you. This collaboration will help, first, ensure that your clients have the opportunity to express their needs so that you can make sure they are met, second, clearly communicate your abilities and restrictions so that you don't oversell yourself, and, lastly, ensure that all parties fully understand the expectations.
Clearly Define Scope in Contract
With mutually agreed-upon expectations hammered out, make sure to get everything in writing, with as much detail as possible. All aspects of the expectations of both the client and you as the consultant should be clearly defined in the project scope in your contract. Include deliverables, details about each component and part, timelines, points of contact, etc. In addition to giving you another chance to discuss expectations with your client as you go over your contract together in preparation for signing, this aspect of the contract will also serve as a reference if needed in the future to clear up any misconceptions or confusion.
Focus on Communication
Throughout the entire process of the project, focusing on constant, thorough, and open communication should be key. By making communication a frequent focus, any pain points or frustrations you or your client are feeling regarding project expectations can be discussed quickly and effectively, before they snowball. If your client feels that you aren't meeting expectations, this can quickly become a point of contention that jeopardizes your relationship. First and foremost, make sure that you are meeting your deadlines and expectations, and document progress and completed milestones to demonstrate this to your client. If you are unable to meet a client's expectation that was not clearly defined earlier in the process, be sure to communicate your reasoning; simply saying "no" without an explanation is generally far less effective than helping your client understand your position.
Set Firm Limits
As an independent consultant, going above and beyond for your clients can be the difference in your ability to leave a positive impression and build a reputation for quality, leading to repeat work as well as client referrals. However, there is a difference between going the extra mile and allowing your clients' expectations to cross into the territory of scope creep or unrealistic demands. While making the occasional concession can pay off in the long-term, particularly your most valuable clients, don't allow yourself to get pushed around; if you feel your client's expectations are going off track, schedule time for extended communication and revisit the agreed-upon terms in your contract.
September 17, 2015
Where did the time go? Seems like just yesterday we were popping bubbly and making resolutions – and yet, 2016 is right around the corner. Whether 2015 was your best year ever or one you’d like to forget, it’s never too early to start thinking ahead. Think of it as an early resolution, if you will.
I dedicate my life to science, technology, music and to bringing people together. And I do it my way.