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.
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