You’d be surprised how often I hear this from people I work with or come in contact with at networking events.
The simple fact is that if you are self employed and operate a limited company through which all your invoices are paid, then you are a business, you are a brand and you need to market that brand to generate more work. One of the best marketing strategies is to constantly refresh your approach and your ideas to stay ahead of the brand strategy game.
If you have a lot of long-term work contracts already in the pipeline this is potentially less important but you still need to:
- Keep yourself relevant
- Keep your brand consistent
- Keep evolving and exemplifying best practice in your field
Your marketing plan for a freelance strategist touchpoints
No doubt you already know and use most of these but it is worth reframing how you use them away from personal usage and towards business usage to maintain a professional image that does not include posting pictures of you drunkenly staggering around town at the weekend.
1. Business cards
An obvious one but not one that people think too much about. Most large companies churn out corporate business cards that are mostly white, rectangular and fade into the background when next to any other business cards.
Try to be a bit different, add lots of colour and personality but maintain a professional look and feel, heroing your brand and your skills.
This is key – so many freelancers have really weak websites because they are ‘too busy to work on it’ or ‘it does not matter as I have a contract at the minute’.
Your site must explain your offer, your thought process and your uniqueness – virtually every potential employer will Google you to find out what you are doing online, check out your site and ratify your credentials so you need to put the time and effort in to getting the information up there for them to find.
3. LinkedIn profile
There is no excuse for not keeping your LinkedIn profile up to date, it is quick to make changes, easy to keep people updated and also it opens your network up to a much wider reach than simply emailing your existing contacts. Get a ‘job seeker’ professional membership (£24 per month) and you can see a lot more detail about the people who are looking at your profile and send new business emails (InMails) to get the conversation going.
Get on there, get your profile to 100% completed, start posting interesting links / finds to your feed and relevant groups to get noticed and you never know where it may lead. I have been inundated with contact requests and emails simply by posting my latest Strat-Talking.com blog posts to relevant strategy, freelance and marketing groups.
Twitter is not for everyone but I use it a lot for work. From finding out about the latest news to forwarding information about blog posts and what I’m up to, I get it out there, get myself seen and known and am actively building a live network of followers who I can interact with and get my freelance strategist story out to.
Consider using ‘smart searches’ on Tweetdeck to simply scan Twitter for anyone mentioning things such as ‘freelance strategist’ or ‘strategy consultant’ as you may be able to pick up a few contracts through proactive listening and responding.
5. Networking events
I do not attend enough networking events, I used to but as bad as it is, I’m too busy with work and finding new contacts online to start business conversations with.
I’m actively looking to start speaking at a lot more events, I have one talk coming up soon on ‘what it means to be a freelance strategist’ to about 50 fellow strategists but am looking to do a few more this year as it is a great way to get your name, your brand and your message out there as well as positioning yourself as an expert.
In summary, we are all busy but to keep your head above water in the long term you need to think a few months ahead to when your current contract may be coming to an end or when you need to bring more cash in before a big holiday. Occasional bursts of activity can only get you so far, being a constant and expected part of the freelance and strategy world’s Twitter, LinkedIn or blog feeds will get you noticed and your brand remembered a lot more.