Private sector driving jobs growth for contractors
According to new figures released last week, the Reed Job Index sits at 125 – which shows that demand for staff is 22% up from April 2010, as well as showing a 25% increase from December 2009 when the baseline of 100 was introduced. These figures also indicate that the majority of the year on year growth has come from the private rather than the public sector, which is good news for all types of contractors whose main client base is within private sector companies rather than public sector ones.
So, if traditionally your business has come from the public sector, but those contracts are less available – how do you re-think your business and start to look for more private sector work? Finding contract or freelance work can be a particularly daunting task and there is no one ‘magical thing’ that will work, it’s very much a case of trying lots of things, as the wider you spread your net the better chance you have. Try all the free, simple and least time consuming things first!
Networking is a crucial aspect of developing leads and contacts in the private sector – the more people who know, the more likely you are to generate business. Get to know as many people as you can, contractors are often asked if they know other contractors who could help on a specific project. Get signed up on LinkedIn and start contacting people/groups who might be able to help you promote your services to the private sector.
One of the most important and crucial part ‘going it alone’ is the ability to optimise your existing contacts as well as building a base of new contacts. Potential private sector clients are everywhere so don’t just focus on business networking, but discuss your contract services in a social capacity as well. Think about anyone you’ve worked with in the past, or met through someone else, and consider whether they could be potential clients. Track these people down and get in touch! Picking up the telephone can be daunting but is a fantastic way of getting instant feedback on your business. Remember – if the person you’ve called isn’t a potential client, they may know someone who is.
It’s also certainly worth investing in a website if you do not have one already, so that prospective clients can find information about your services and contact details. In order to create a ‘professional look’ and brand identity, the website should reflect who you are and what your business is all about, but doesn’t mean it should cost a fortune. If you know a web developer, you’ll be able to negotiate a competitive rate however, if you don’t then there are a number of low-cost packages out there to get you online. It might not get you direct business, but it increases your profile and means that people can find you when they need your skills.
Another new revelation to marketing is blogging, and this become one of the cheapest and best ways to make potential clients aware of your services and expertise, especially in the private sector. To appeal to clients you need to appear as an expert in your field, and through writing a blog you gain credibility within your industry. Make sure you keep the content of your blog relevant and interesting, keep up with changes in your industry and development in the skills that you can offer. You’ll find that if you’re interested in the services you offer, so will others be!
Further to this, increasing your social networking presence can also get people to your website. Set up a Facebook account dedicated to your freelance or contract services and promote away. Twitter about your services as well, making sure to Tweet links to your website – you’ll be surprised how many people will be interested in your business. To see examples of what we have done visit our SJD blog and SJD Twitter site. To find out more about using social media, visit our Guide to Social Media here.