Before founding Differentz, Terry Corby spent 15 years as a partner at Accenture and KPMG, two of the world’s largest professional services companies, so he knows a thing or two about business. Asked by Black Enterprise to offer suggestions on how consultants, interim managers and other types of contractors might drum up more work in the new year, he put together the seven helpful tips listed below.
The first step, Corby says, is to get feedback from past clients. It’s important to know what people think of your work, as it helps you get a sense of your strengths and weaknesses. From there, you’ll be able to build a “personal profile,” and that’s your starting point for gaining more business in 2014.
1. Build That Brand — In business, “who you are” is more important than “what you’ve accomplished.” According to Corby, your brand is basically “what people say about you when you’re not in the room,” so you want to control the conversation and define yourself by what you believe to be your core set of skills and values.
2. Show Your Softer Side — Competition for professional services is fierce, and often, you’ll find yourself facing off against folks with exactly the same technical skills. What sets you apart? It’s the “soft skills,” as Corby calls them, or “the way in which you do things, and not just what you do.”
3. Create a Rich Profile — It’s not enough to list the projects you’ve worked on. That doesn’t really tell a potential client anything. As per Corby, it’s better to describe what you brought to the projects and how your contributions led to their overall success.
4. Ask For Feedback — Don’t simply seek endorsements from satisfied clients or friends and family members. Instead, get genuine feedback about recent projects. It’s far more valuable.
5. Get Social — Once you’ve gathered feedback and put together your personal profile, you’ll want to market your talents to potential clients. A great way to do this is by using social media.
6. Never Stop Learning — Business is never static, and if you’re able to keep up with changes in your industry and learn about the latest trends and technologies, your services will be more marketable to potential clients.
7. Build a Network — Sometimes, clients will come to you seeking services you can’t provide. In these situations, it’s helpful to refer them to other individuals whose work you can vouch for, and in order to do this, you need to build a network of people whose talents compliment your own. What goes around comes around, and this will result in others sending work your way.