Searching for work:
When I first started out in self employment by virtue of my skill set, I was basically stuck in one vertical. I have learned from other consultants to strategically gain experience in as many different verticals and industries as possible. You don’t want to get stuck in a niche or stuck in one vertical. Niches and verticals go through recessions. You want to gain as much experience as possible. Self employment works well for this.
I’ve learned being successful at self employment is largely self-driven. You need to constantly be “on the look” for future projects even while you’re working at a client. It’s very self motivated. In the course of a day or a week, I’m constantly in dialogue with existing clients, old clients, intermediaries, contacts and other self-employed people
So how have I managed to find clients?
- • Other self-employed people – Because I’m self-employed, I know other self-employed people. We stay constantly in touch with each other and try to help one another out. Some of us have similar skills and experience some of us quite different; we do all complement each other in some way. If I know someone is looking, I’ll keep my ears open; they’ll do the same for me. I have sent convertible leads to people and they’ve sent convertible leads to me.
• Simply keeping in touch – I’ve kept in touch with people from the beginning of my career to present. I’m very sociable and I talk to everyone. I’m always amazed at the number of interns and front desk people, I’ve met years ago, who are now in management roles at public and private organizations. Recently I converted a lead received by someone I worked with 15 years ago into a project. It pays to stay in touch.
• Introductions – I’ve made introductions for people and people have made introductions for me. Sometimes introductions lead to work.
• Opportunities at your existing client – Simply know what other projects are attached to your project or what other similar projects are on the horizon at your client. If what they need lines up with your skill set and experience and they’re happy with your work, you can be at that client for awhile.
• Social Media – Believe it or not, but I have converted a couple of leads that came in via social media. I have never met these “go betweens” in person, but I’m grateful for their help. But be smart about it, trust your “spidey senses”. If you suspect a scam, it is likely a scam.
• Networking – I think every skill set, technology or professional designation has its own group, a lot of them have once a month meetings. Many are free. Go to them and talk to people. Don’t go asking for or looking for business. Go to meet people and build relationships. People who go either single mindedly looking for business or for work repel people. If you’re uncomfortable going by yourself take someone with you. If you know people there ask them to introduce you to people you don’t know. If not make introductions yourself (but don’t interrupt conversations). It takes some practice. Once upon a time, I was fairly shy, now I can confidently work a room.
• Talk to strangers – Toronto, is not exactly the friendliest city on Earth. A “good morning” a smile or a “simple compliment” to a stranger tends to weird out most Torontonians. However, there is good news. A lot of cities not named Toronto in Canada, the US and elsewhere are friendly. Innocuous small talk has led to an opportunity to build relationships which has led to opportunities.
• RFS – A lot of organizations put out Request for Service (RFS) tenders via different tendering methods. In most cases, anyone can respond to them. When, responding to the RFS, read the instructions carefully and note the deadline dates. A lot of RFS have specific requirements in terms of what they expect to see in a response. These items are not options. Follow the instructions.
Benefits of self employment over full-time employment
There are no absolutes in life. Very few full-time jobs have any sort of job security. I’ve worked for a lot of public and private organizations and very few have had any sort of employee career planning. If you’re good at your job they basically want to keep you at that job. As a person, I love to learn, I love to be challenged, I enjoy solving problems, I love to think and I love to teach. Self-employment for me has allowed me to take on different challenges. I‘ve had the opportunity to manage my own education and experience and build my career the way I wanted too. I’ve worked in all different verticals, in different roles from technical to project/program management, executive advisory, business process re-engineering, change management, conflict resolution, etc. I’ve honed my leadership skills under a cross section of excellent c-level executives at some pretty big private and public organizations; these executives aren’t only excellent business people, but also people. They’ve taught me, how to listen, strategize, manage conflict and politics, negotiate, be a better communicator, lead, manage, mentor others, admit mistakes and be a better person. I don’t think, I would have gotten the depth and breadth of the experience that I currently have, if I was a full-time employee somewhere.
end of part 2… to be continued in part 3; Downtime and Lessons Learned
Tyger Das is a management consultant with 13+ years experience who originally started his career as a programmer. His experience includes executive advisory, business strategy, business systems analysis, marketing strategy, program/project/vendor management, marketing, consulting or IT operations (including offshore) management, best practice(s) implementation, business process re-engineering (six sigma), cost and work effort reduction through business process optimization, change management and technical(IT/IS) or advertising RFS/RFP process management. Some of Tyger’s past and present clients include: Aon, RBC, CGI, General Electric, Maclaren McCann, various US and Canadian health agencies, General Motors, Ford Europe(Jaguar, Land Rover), Diageo PLC(Pilsbury, Guinness & Co. and Smithwick’s, Burger King), NASA, Rogers Communications, various municipal, provincial and state agencies, a number of non-profits, Porsche AG, a handful of boutique advertising agencies and the National Basketball Association.