5 Tips to Enhance Your Private Career Practice
I’ve come to realize that operating a private practice requires a multi-faceted skill set and approach. I cannot simply sit in my home office and hope that clients will find me. Certainly, some have found me on their own, and that is always exciting, but connecting with others is very important. I do this in a few ways, and I’d like to share the key actions that have helped me along the way.
Seek Business Advice
Talk to successful business owners. My cousin has been in the painting business for over 20 years, so he must be doing something right! When I was contemplating launching my private career practice, he gave me a few pointers about pricing and marketing. He explained that it took some time to figure out how to bid on jobs.
It’s the same for private career practitioners. We need to determine what the market is willing to pay and what our services are worth.
Clarity about your client’s situation is important in order to be able to research what price the market will support. For example, a new grad isn’t likely to have the same career development budget as an executive would have. As for the value of services offered, I’ve learned not to underprice myself. Consider the training, experience, and past successes you’ve had, and don’t forget to factor in your expenses.
In terms of marketing, my cousin has a long list of testimonials on his website. Over the years, these testimonials have served him well. I’ve taken the same approach. When I wrap up a client project, I ask the person if they’d be willing to write a testimonial for use on my website, Google, or LinkedIn. The only way to build your portfolio of testimonials is to ask for them!
Regardless of the industry, speaking to others in business can help build your understanding of common considerations and pitfalls to avoid. Oh, and if you haven’t taken it already, CPC’s free online course, “Start a Career Practice“, is packed full of helpful information.
Watch, Learn, and Grow
You can learn a lot by watching other professionals from the sidelines. I follow several entrepreneurs, including business coaches and other career coaches. Some of my favourites are:
Over time, some of us have formed relationships; we have gotten to know each other and have built trust. I make it a practice to tag my business peers and those I admire in my social media posts and they do the same for me. I have learned a lot by building respectful relationships with others in business and carefully observing how they operate. I have grown to appreciate my online friendships and the collaboration that goes along with them.
Build a Social Media Presence and Commit to It!
We know that social media works, but in order to gain maximum benefit from using social media platforms, you need to know your target audience. Posting quality content that your audience wants is important. Ask yourself:
- What do you want your audience to think about?
- What do you want them to believe?
- What actions do you want them to take?
- Would you be proud to show your mother the posts you write? Think about it!
Understanding your audience takes time. Take a critical look at your posts that fell flat and the ones that got traction. What differences do you see between the two categories? Was it the content? The time of day? The right use of hashtags? Track your analytics to understand what your followers want from you.
You also need to be consistent in your use of social media. I am on LinkedIn and Instagram daily. I take breaks from time-to-time, but consistency is important. If you can’t be consistent, skip it.
Network! Network! Network!
I quickly learned how valuable networking is to the health of my private practice. I set a target of attending at least one networking meeting a week. My background is in HR, so I attend local HR events. At these events, I’ll often take pictures, then post and tag my peers for networking visibility on my social media sites. In addition, I’m a member of a business club that supports local entrepreneurs by hosting weekly meetings and providing a referral system.
I’ve also joined Toastmasters. There are numerous benefits to being a member of this global organization. Not only have I polished my public speaking abilities, but I have met some great people. In-person networking is key to getting noticed.
Lead by Example
If you offer to help your clients with personal branding, make sure YOUR personal band is strong, professional, and consistent. Whatever your skill set, be sure to demonstrate it through your own work. What you say, what you do, and what you write should always reflect and support your brand. Credibility is important!
I hope that I’ve left you with some ideas on how to make your career practice thrive and grow, but, remember:
“Not everything you see and hear is meant for you. Take what you need and leave the rest.” Michelle Risi – The Fabric of Our Soul