For a contract career, there's nowt as powerful as people power

Contractors do lots of things well but they’re often not natural ‘Connectors’ which despite sounding like a techie term you’re familiar with, is actually about people power and bringing us together, writes Matt Craven, founder of the CV & Interview Advisors.  

Are you a Connector?

So if, like me, you’re not the world’s best networker and feel like you’re just bugging people when you reach out to them (in person or online), then you need a Connector. Similar to roads and rivers, Connectors are unique in that they provide routes, channels and openings, albeit for business people to connect with each other, have useful conversations and do business. The UK’s leading network coach Heather White is a Connector. Heather takes pleasure in connecting people. Heather is Smart. Be like Heather!

But if you can’t be because, like I am, you’re just a bit too introverted, then join my company -- which is now working alongside Heather -- tomorrow evening (Wednesday June 29) for the very latest in personal branding and how to use it to win extra or lucrative contract work.  

It would be unfair to give away too much here, but once you leave the webinar you should really understand why personal brand development -- often achieved through networking -- is one of the keys to unlocking a successful contract career. It’s from this perspective that I embrace networking as part of my own company’s marketing strategy.

Your networking currency@the Bank of Good Favour

As to where Connectors fit in, well contractors; I recommend that you actively seek out Connectors. Don’t know who they are? Or don't where to find them? It’s easy. They’re the people who you might describe as being "well-connected."

Next, and once you have identified these people, you should find an excuse to do them a turn or favour that has a business-related edge. In doing so, you will start to build up a bank of ‘networking currency.’ This favour or turn I’m recommending you do could be a free review, endorsement or testimonial of them, their skills or their business. Or it could be something as simple as referring someone you know to them. Or just send them some useful links to online, professional content that’s very relevant to them.

This ‘currency’ is simply a bank of good favour that will encourage people to think of you (perhaps even sub-consciously) the next time they have an opportunity to introduce someone who might be a decision-maker in your space. And why wouldn’t they think of you? Ask yourself: who would you rather share a good or new contact with -- the person whose silent and doesn’t contribute to your LinkedIn feed or profile, or the person who is pro-active; up-to-date with the latest goings and friendly yet professional? This has certainly worked with Heather and I. Actually, I’ve now lost count of the sheer number of people who she has effectively put me in touch with or who I’ve met through this technique.

Sealing the deal with the decision-maker

So to summarise so far:

  • Find and identify a Connector
  • Connect with the Connector --- LinkedIn is unbeatable for this
  • Build rapport with the Connector
  • Do the Connector a turn or favour

…And then at some point afterwards, you should hopefullly reap the rewards and receive some useful introductions to decision-makers and people you’d love to know (but don’t, currently).

Your work doesn’t end there however. You now move onto sealing the deal with the decision-maker for a tangible outcome. So once the decision-maker has been introduced (if it’s an e-introduction rather than face-to-face), the chances are that they will check you out on LinkedIn; remember, statistically, 85% of people will! But you should imagine that if you had been introduced face-to-face -- what would you tell them about yourself and your business? This is the message that must come out through your LinkedIn page and it must convey a value proposition that allows the person you’ve been introduced to, to understand what you are; how you do it (differently to your rivals) and how you can be useful to them or their business.

This is where personal branding comes in again, as does the messaging of your LinkedIn profile, CV, website, client pitch (or interview) and any other weapon in your professional arsenal which must all be consistent and compelling. I’ll be sharing the secrets of doing all this with the sole aim of winning more or lucrative contract work in a free one-hour Contractor UK webinar on Wednesday 29th June at 7.15pm. To take part, you can register online.

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Written by Simon Moore

Simon writes impartial news and engaging features for the contractor industry, covering, IR35, the loan charge and general tax and legislation.
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