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"You've Got Gigs:" How One Consultant Grows His Business

published in December 1, 2006
on CMP's

Passively submitting resumes to a Web site is so 20th century

A decade ago, I landed one of the most interesting opportunities of my career by passively submitting my resume to a Web site. If that's all I did today, however, I might still be waiting for my first good gig.

Today's online careers tools can be powerful allies in helping you market yourself to potential clients. And since most IT contractors still rely on passive searches to find gigs, learning how to use tools can give you a significant competitive advantage.

I'm doing what smart contractors do; I use every facet of every available tool to expand my network and land interesting projects. And while I'm not an IT consultant, I believe what I've learned about available tools and networking approaches would be a benefit to any tech consultant as well.

I use a search arsenal that includes word-of-mouth referrals and participating in social networks such as LinkedIn. I also maintain my own Web site. I guess you could say I advertise myself wherever there's a billboard with a good view for prospects. That's what first led me to Since becoming a subscriber I've learned the value of actively exploiting the site's features, and it's paid off in some great new client opportunities.

For example, instead of waiting for potential clients to find me, I can use the site's "See Who's Viewed Your Profile" feature to identify companies that might be interested in me. This tool, which can be found by first logging in or by opting to receive this information by e-mail every week, tells me which companies have viewed my resume, and whether they've searched in person or used an automated search agent.

By clicking on the company name, I can see the Google search page for that company, and do some research into what they do and why they might need my services. It's a good way to collect background information I can use in making my pitch.

This puts me in the active mode of reading about a company to see if I'd even want to work for them, then it's a matter of getting active, leaning forward and picking up the phone. I know there's a good chance they're interested; why else would they be reviewing my resume?

Armed with this knowledge I can whip out my elevator speech (my 10-second canned response for what I do and who I am), and presto! I'm making a not-so-cold call. "Hello, I'm a contract public relations professional with international publishing credentials and a successful track record in winning client publicity in major and trade media. I see that someone in your office was using a service to locate talented professionals like me. Since you may be interested in contracting my services, I thought I'd give you a follow-up call and see how I can help."

One such call put me in touch with a general manager of a medium-sized family business. He was looking for ways to expand the business through marketing and public relations campaigns.

Even if such a contact doesn't immediately result in a contract, it can open some doors I would otherwise never have known about. It also gives me an opportunity to bone up on my cold calling skills and gets my name in front of yet another prospect, expanding my network.

It also gives me a sense of satisfaction. I'm taking steps to manage my career and grow my project pipeline instead of simply leaving things up to the click of a button.

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david southgate
writing for living.