In my last post I discussed the tools we use to manage our work lives. Carrying on with the theme of things I have learned since I started being self-employed, I wanted to look at the sometimes worrying subject of finding new work.
In many ways, I still find this one a bit of a puzzler. When I joined the Onlignment team and helped establish the >BL team, I was lucky enough to have access to the experience and reputation of my colleagues. This privilege has undoubtedly eased my way into the world of self-employment. I brought with me excellent connections in the INGO sector but I have to consciously make an effort to think outside that box when considering where we might find new business. It is easy and comforting to go back to your well-established and long-standing clients and they, naturally, form the bedrock of any company’s success. In order to spread the >BL message we need to challenge ourselves to look outside the comfort zone of the familiar faces. So how do you do that?
In this day and age, social media presence plays a large part in cottage industry marketing efforts. We do not have a brand manager or a marketing director or even a communications intern. Like many small companies, we do everything ourselves, acknowledging that where we have skills gaps, we need to seek advice from people with the expertise we lack. In social media terms, followers = reach and reach = potential work and effective avenues for messaging.
Social media presence is made up of a number of interlinked elements, none of which is enough on its own. You need some way of telling people what you do and why you do it. We have a website that demonstrates our approach and lets people know what we offer. You need to promote your approach, ideally through well-read blogs. You need to be seen to regularly contribute to the conversations of the day so that you remain relevant. Twitter is the ideal channel for this. There is symbiosis going on here – interesting and relevant blog posts raise your profile and lead people to your Twitter feed where you need to be active to keep people’s interest. Being active on Twitter and earning respect for the things you share make people want to seek out more information about you, and what you can offer, and drives people to your website. Your website needs to be unambiguous, making it immediately clear what you offer, how this offer addresses people’s needs and how they can get in touch with you to discuss these needs.
But given how interdependent these things are, how do you get people’s attention in the first place, when you are a new voice, competing with many other voices? Answers in a tweet, please…