Life offers us opportunities all the time — the trick is spotting them and taking advantage of them.
When you are new to a client, new to an agency or just networking to enhance your reputation as a contractor, you will be presented with opportunities to shine, either through the normal course of business or better yet, because you made it happen!
Here are some thoughts for you
If you get the chance to chat with someone influential be prepared to have a meaningful conversation.
Do you have something interesting to tell?
Can you ask interesting questions and stimulate conversation?
Are you actually prepared for the opportunity or are you going to wing it?
Do you know what messages you want to get across, and how best to present them?
You might be a guest at a client function, a charity event or some other “social business-related” setting.
Do you know how to behave?
Do you understand etiquette and manners?
Do you know who will be there and what you might say to them?
Are you treating it like an opportunity to shine?
You may find yourself in large networking events.
Do some research – who will be there, what is the event is all about, what is the history, who are the organizers etc.
Learn how to network. There are many sources that offer advice and some training.
At any time in your career you may find yourself with opportunity.
Remember the basics.
Do NOT just play it on instincts.
Put your best foot forward.
Never assume that you know it all, that you have the experience and that your past experiences have prepared you for this moment. You might just let the moment slip through your grasp for lack of a little preparation.
Some of the dangers lurking in the shadows of your contract opportunities:
People’s opinion of you can be colored, good or bad, very quickly.
One small indiscretion can cause the red flags to go up, meaning that you now have a hurdle to overcome.
A favorable impression on the right person can go a long way.
Some of the classic moments that will not help your business:
Getting drunk at a client function — social or not;
Speaking from the hip, possibly because of too many drinks. Nothing wrong with a little honesty, but always be cognizant of your audience.
Not being prepared for a meeting.
Being given an opportunity to present ideas/concepts/opportunities and focusing on negatives, not solutions.
Talking too much.
Not listening enough.
Ignoring the normal etiquette of a situation.
All of the above could have been opportunities to impress or to build your reputation in your industry. Remember, as an independent contractor, your reputation, among potential clients, within recruitment agencies, and even among your peers is critical. There’s a good chance that all of these groups will talk to each other and hurting your image with one can affect future contracts or partnerships.
How do you keep your reputation in tact?