My son, Paul Virag, has hung out his shingle as an independent. Paul’s challenge is differentiating himself as an ace developer, in a market dominated by price competition and cheap labor. My boss at Coopers lamented the same thing, years ago, as a “buy it by the pound” business.
Mind your Rolodex. Along with maintaining a marketable skill, this never-ending job tops the list of must-dos for the independent contractor.
The solution, of course, is assiduous networking. The quote above, complete with antique Rolodex reference, is from the Tom Peters Seminar. In today’s post, I present my networking routine.
- I check Linked-In every day for news about people I know, and then I write or at least “like” the update. It has gotten Facebook-y over the years, but Linked-In is still the best (only) site for professional networking.
- I am not a “Linked-In whore,” though. I actually know most of my connections. I call or email at least one of these people every day, especially when I am not looking for work.
- Maintain a web site, obviously. Mine is overdue for its periodic update. Something like Mike Cohn’s blog will be more relevant to Paul.
- As a developer, Paul will also want to be noticed on Github and Stack Overflow – though this means mostly peer developers, not hiring managers.
- I post roughly twice a month on my blog. It gets about 100 views per month. WordPress shares my posts to Linked-In. They get more views on Linked-In than they do native on the blog.
- I collect relevant content for my Twitter feed, and then I load Hootsuite to make at least three posts every day. I find content using my RSS reader and the blogroll from my blog.
- This is in addition to spontaneous tweets, retweets, and conversations. I follow a great group of people, whom I rely upon for industry news, so for me this is a natural process.
- A few tweets every week lead back to my blog. I use bit.ly to track the hits. Twitter provides analytics for free.
- Keep your resume up to date. People still like to see a resume. When I was starting out (Coopers again) I maintained different versions tailored to our practice areas. “Virag specializes in nothing but healthcare,” … and auto, and retail, etc.
- Go to conferences, and get on the podium if you can. My main one is the F&I conference held every fall in Las Vegas. This is also an opportunity to hike Red Rock Canyon.
All of this activity takes time, especially writing original content. I spend five or six hours per week. Hootsuite helps because I can stoke Twitter on the weekend, outside of billable hours. Bonus eleventh tip: write blog posts that start with “Top Ten Tips.” People love that.