As a Consultant, you’re often seen as one big problem-solving machine, and whilst you may be great at solving other peoples’ problems it’s easy to let your own fall to the wayside.
As the landscape of winning work consistently changes, it is increasingly important to keep your personal brand up-to-date so that you don’t fall behind. A task, which if you’re not the most creative mind, can seem like a daunting problem you’re quite happy to leave at the bottom of the to-do list.
IPSE, The Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed, have created a Guide to Freelancing which touches on starting out as a freelancer to an exit plan and everything in between – including how to win work by developing and maintaining your personal brand.
So, where do you start?
One big tip from the guide- don’t spend too much time and money on your website. It can be tempting to get completely absorbed with creating an amazing site, but make sure you don’t stop doing the things that actually land paying clients like getting out there and talking to people. If you already have a website, a benefit of revisiting it is that by sitting down to re-plan your website you force yourself to really think about how you communicate your offering. IPSE provides its members discounted access to platforms like Wix where you can easily create your own website (even if you don’t have a creative bone in your body).
Clients care about how you can solve their problem, so it’s best to explain your achievements in a way that reassures them that you can deliver what you say you can. Also, be sure to include a clear ‘call to action’ – a reason and a means to get in touch with you. Once you start to gain momentum or if you already feel comfortable with your website, you can perhaps start adding a regular blog, or a repository for articles, case studies or videos to showcase your expertise.
When it comes to social media, some freelancers use their LinkedIn page instead of a website – it’s a free, quick and easy way of creating an online profile that is always up to date. TIP: You can also set up a custom URL on LinkedIn so you can publish a personalised link to your profile. LinkedIn is a good way to stay connected to past clients and build your network either through your personal account or through a company page or group. Plus, you can ask for recommendations from past colleagues or clients whilst staying on their radar.
Twitter is another alternative, and while it may seem daunting to try and stay up to date with it, it can be excellent for assessing the market, gathering information, developing your reputation and building relationships. If you’re still not sure about it, IPSE often runs seminars on using social media effectively so keep an eye on the events calendar at ipse.co.uk or subscribe to their newsletter for updates.
So you have your website and social media in place, but they’re no good to you if no one knows who you are. You don’t have to be a big company to use Public Relations. IPSE’s Guide to Freelancing provides some examples of things you can do to get your name out there, such as:
• Public speaking
• Making yourself available for interviews by positioning yourself as an expert in your field
• Look for press opportunities in relevant trade journals
• Write white papers and technical articles
• Consider writing a blog and contributing to other popular professional blogs
• Write case studies about recent projects
• Issue short press releases on recent successes.
“Public speaking is a useful way of building a reputation provided that you help others by giving useful information, not by directly selling services. Within most communities knowledge sharing is a valued way to behave, while overt marketing is poorly received. Other ways to share knowledge and information include publishing articles, contributing to podcasts, running webinars and video,” says Colin Butcher xdelta.co.uk, a Consulting Engineer specialising in mission-critical systems.
When you work for yourself, it can be easy to become comfortable once you have achieved some success. This is why it is important to stay on top of things like your personal brand to ensure a more consistent work (and cash) flow.
For a more in-depth look and for other tips, download the Guide to Freelancing for free from IPSE’s website.