You’ve started the next chapter of your career and have entered the world of IT freelancing. The benefits to this way of working are now in your grasp- professional freedom, flexibility and a chance to demonstrate your particular IT expertise.
However, these perks are not guaranteed in today’s highly competitive world. So how can you make them a reality? For those in search of an answer, there are a number of ways that can help ensure that your decision to go freelance is the best of your career.
Firstly, pay as much attention to your ‘soft skills’ as your technical skills. In order to maintain and develop your professional network, a personable approach is vital. After all, everyone responds positively to those who are interested in them as person, not merely as another stepping stone in their career. Arguably the most beneficial skill that will help you manage your workload and create the best impression is communication.
Communication allows you to be open with your clients, creating an understanding relationship. This, in turn, will help with stress management. For example, if you ever had to push back on a request, the art of communication will help you reach a mutually beneficial solution or compromise. Clear communication will also benefit your organisational and problem-solving skills. By ensuring that your client is not kept in the dark about the progress of your project, you will create an open relationship with them. Creating a ‘breathing space’ to consider requests and ideas will help you to manage your time better and give you the opportunity to efficiently solve problems if or when they arise. By nurturing these skills, not only will you win your clients’ trust, but you will also be able to reduce your own stress and deliver higher quality results.
As a freelancer, you may be required to work onsite at your client for a set period of time, ingratiating yourself in a team and new office culture. This provides the benefits of being surrounded by other people and understanding the company better, so it is important to ingratiate yourself with your temporary colleagues. By doing this you will feel more at home in the office during your time there and more comfortable in a new environment.
Even though you may be with a company for a short amount of time, make the effort to engage with your temporary colleagues. Little things such as a smile and a ‘good morning’ go a long way. If the team eat lunch together, don’t hesitate to join them! Despite the fact that you may not be a part of their organisation for long, the giving and taking of friendly exchanges can brighten your day and offer an extra positive freelancing experience.
The absence of a permanent office in an IT freelancer’s life means that they are flying solo not only when it comes to their work, but also their professional branding and reputation. It is therefore important to pay attention to administrative procedures and how you present yourself to both current and prospective clients. Three important things to consider are:
Without exception, you must use a contract for every project you undertake. This will not only provide both yourself and your client with security, but it will demonstrate that you are both thorough and conscientious. Templates for contracts can be found online and can be edited to suit your own needs.
A prospective client will want to find out more about you when considering working with you. It is important to reassure them as much as you can that you are an efficient and trustworthy and that you know your stuff. Positive testimonials and client ratings will help make a great first impression. Amass the ones you already have, or request some new ones. These can be added to your CV, website or in the form of a recommendation on LinkedIn.
Professional Social Media Profiles
If you don’t have your own website or online presence other than your social media accounts, ensure that you present yourself in a suitable manner in case a prospective client finds you online. Make the most of LinkedIn by having a professional profile and cover photo, as well as a good summary and up to date entries for your employment and qualifications. Your Twitter, Facebook and Instagram must also be free of inappropriate content.
With these tips, you can make sure that your life as an IT freelancer remains the career move you were always hoping for. By being conscientious of how you present yourself and your personal brand you will reap the rewards of being an independent professional. By building strong relationships with your network you will have the foundations to make each project a success. Communication and organisation are key, making it easier for you to allow time for yourself and excel in your work.
Ottilie Wood, Marketing Executive based at K2 Partnering Solutions HQ in London.