Having launched ‘The Marketing Assistant’ just over two years ago, I am often contacted for advice by others looking to do the same thing within their field of business – an email that I am always rather flattered to receive. I made a promise to myself when I was a student trying to get work, that if I was ever in a position where people contacted me for help, advice or even a job, I would always respond. As I am now in that position, I always reply – but I thought that I could go one better and write a blog to share as well!
The first question I get asked is often ‘How did you do it?’, and as for me it was more of a circumstantial opportunity than a lifelong dream, I tend to give general advice rather than my personal story. So, if you are looking to start up on your own, become a consultant or freelance your skills, hopefully these five points will help:
- Always engage with people: Be generous with how you engage with people, always reply to an enquiry – even if you can’t help. Always take the time to meet for a coffee and never burn bridges – you never know when that person may become a client, referrer or collaborator. And remember, you are now in the position of needing help and advice so it works both ways.
- Share your knowledge: Many people struggle with ‘giving something away for free’ especially if you sell Intellectual Property (IP), but it is better to give a little away to highlight your knowledge, skills and professionalism rather than to never get the chance to show it off. Sharing knowledge isn’t just advice from what you have learnt on your business journey but all those really useful hints and tips within your industry, people will remember you for it and you will become known as a knowledge hub and influencer within your sector.
- Network efficiently: This isn’t just about turning up to an event and thrusting your business card at whoever you meet, it is about making the most of the opportunity and engaging with people and even the event organiser. Join in the conversation on Social Media, most conferences/networking events have a handle and/or hashtag. If you learn something new or hear something interesting share it with an image or video of the event. Connect with those that you do meet on LinkedIn, send them a personal message: ‘Nice to meet you today, it would be good to hear more about your business etc.’ Networking is about learning new things and meeting new people to build new relationships.
- Collaborate: ‘No man is an Island, entire of itself’. In order to offer a full host of services I collaborate with a number of professionals who are experts within their field but share the same values and ethics that I do. Collaboration is all about working with someone else to produce something that you couldn’t do alone. Actively seek out those you could work with to strengthen your (and their) offering, skills and services.
- Be open to anything: Don’t enter into the start-up phase of your business with a closed mind, you really don’t know where this journey will take you therefore have an open mind and explore all ideas that present themselves and all avenues of opportunity no matter your previous experience, you never know where it may lead you and who you may meet!