If you’re an independent contractor, you might be ready to take your business to the next level this year. Here are 6 great tips for doing just that.
Be a Brand
The way you present yourself to potential clients is vitally important if you want to be taken seriously. See yourself as a BRAND and ensure that your brand image is what you want it to be. Dress, act and speak like a true professional and create the best possible impression you can.
Follow up on everything
Opportunities can come from the most unlikely sources, so make sure you follow up on every lead, no matter how insignificant it may seem. If you meet someone at a social event who gives you a business card, send a short email the following week reminding the person of what it is you can do for them. Follow up on every phone or email query as soon as possible! Waiting even a few hours could cost you a job – and future work! See every introduction as a lead and follow up!
Improve your communication skills
The way you respond to emails and converse with clients on the phone or in person, can make or break the relationship. Bad grammar, curtness, not responding properly to the questions asked, not providing the right information, spelling mistakes etc. create a bad impression of you and can make others lose confidence in you, EVEN IF YOUR BUSINESS HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THE COMMUNICATION INDUSTRY! Make sure you create the best possible impression though your communication skills. The first rule of great communication is to seek first to understand, then to be understood. There is nothing more frustrating than sending a query email with all your important questions, only to receive a reply that doesn’t answer those questions! So always ensure you understand exactly what is being asked of you, then set out to respond in a clear, concise and friendly manner. Little things like saying hello, using the person’s name and signing off can make a huge difference. If you struggle with written or interpersonal communication skills, consider doing a short course – it could make the world of difference!
Surprise and delight your clients
You know what it takes to simply “get the job done” and do what’s expected… But what might happen if you did more than expected, if you did the job better than anyone before you, and surprised your clients with excellent service? If you truly impress and surprise a client, they WILL think of you next time around! With a little extra effort you can stand out as someone who goes above and beyond what’s expected… Keep doing more than your competitors and you will gain a reputation for excellence.
Leave something behind
Once you have given that superb service, make sure that your clients remember you by leaving something behind. It could simply be a business card, but why not make 100% sure they call on you next time by doing something a little out of the ordinary? It could be a small “gift” – something they are likely to use (e.g. a fridge magnet with emergency numbers, including yours, or a stress ball with your telephone number on). You could even print out small “flyer” with your photo and contact details. This needn’t be expensive at all – you could do it from home with your own printer. Be creative!
Get your admin sorted
Go into the New Year as organised as possible. Make sure all your filing, paperwork, tax and admin is up to date and that you don’t fall behind. Enlist the help of a professional if it’s too much to do on your own. Have you considered all the options available to you? For instance, you might want to consider setting up a Limited Company or joining an Umbrella Company this year – speak to an expert and ensure that your give yourself and your business the best shot at success in 2012.
1st Contact Umbrella would like to wish all our clients a prosperous 2012. Visit www.1stcontact-umbrella.com for more information about working under an Umbrella Company, or www.1stcontact-accounting.com if you would like advice or support setting up a Limited Company.