I’m keeping the “ate” rhymes going in my topic header that I started with my recent To Make Sure You Relate, Integrate post, but the topic of these two posts are quite different. If you’ve read some of my recent posts you know that it takes a lot of hard work and commitment to launch a new business, including a consultancy. And, there are a lot of starts and stops along the way. You get very excited about a prospective client meeting and spend hours preparing for it, so you are able to communicate what you know about your prospective client, their industry, their competition, and particularly their pain points. It’s particularly important that you be able to demonstrate what specific skills, experience, and activities you can bring that will help minimize or eliminate a client’s pain. Unfortunately, even when you are able to demonstrate your value proposition, prospective clients aren’t always ready or able to make the leap to engaging your services for a project or ongoing contract work. They may already have relationships in place with organizations offering similar services, or they may need to obtain approvals from several levels higher up in their organization before they can start working with you, and/or they just may not have an immediate need for your services. Lastly, while you may be able to address one of their pain points, they may have greater pains that may need addressing first that aren’t in your area of expertise. You may be offering services to help them with a belly ache when they’ve got such sharp, shooting back pain that the belly ache, while troublesome, is not the area that they feel needs the most immediate attention.
As I advise friends who are seeking permanent, contract, or consulting work to do, I make every attempt to use any time where I am not doing client work and/or presenting to a prospective client/networking to educate myself on topics important to my industry and line of work. While I wait for my client work pipeline to grow, and when I feel I need a break from networking and selling myself and my skills, I attend webinars and phone discussions with/offered by experts in online/digital marketing. I read blog and web site content about digital opportunities/marketing, and particularly, about improving SEO (search engine optimization) and optimizing pay-per-click/paid search advertising. If someone reaches out to me to attend a webinar — most are free — or asks to have a phone conversation about new digital marketing technology or any topic related to online presence, I’m almost always glad to listen in, have a conversation, etc.
I know keeping myself well-educated on all the ongoing changes and improvements in digital, traditional, and integrated marketing will make me a more valuable consultant to my clients. Being well-informed just adds more and more tools I can add to my doctor’s kit, so that when faced with a client’s or prospective client’s pain point, I can share a variety of options with them that will help them minimize or eliminate their pain in an effective and efficient manner.
Continuously educating myself on topics related to my area of expertise and interest will mean that when a current or prospective client comes to me with a new pain point, I’m more likely to have the tools to address it. In fact, the next time a client needs help with their back versus a toe, I may be able to help or have made a connection who can help (which will also create good will with any client). I don’t ever plan to stop growing and learning professionally, and I hope you won’t either. It’s a great way to remain fully engaged in any industry or profession. You’ll remain enthusiastic and draw other enthusiasts toward you, including new customers who recognize you as being knowledgeable about their particular challenge.
3 thoughts on “While You Wait, Educate”
This is true in full-time employment also. Sometimes we all need a break from tasks and must-dos for some fresh thinking. I have found some interesting industry groups on LinkedIn as well as leadership articles from Harvard to be regenerating.These reading / thinking breaks are and a great way to jumpstart a new idea or two and keep sharpening that saw!
You are so right, Maria. It doesn’t matter whether you are self-employed or work for an employer, to be the best you can be in any role, in any industry, you need to keep pushing yourself mentally. Having the ability to grow and learn contributes significantly to both job satisfaction and contribution. Employers are lucky when they find themselves with employees like you who work hard to stay current, informed, and refreshed.
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