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Find Self Employment

A great product is worthless if you can’t find a customer to buy it. And to find a customer, rather many customers, you need to have a strong marketing strategy backed with a solid tactical plan. Here are a few steps to help you move in the right direction.

  • Build a Brand

When you are self-employed, YOU are your brand. You must do whatever it takes to build your personal brand and put it out there for your target market to see. Here are a few ways to do that:

    • Build a strong resume:

Your resume should show all your credentials and accomplishments; but in a concise way. Your resume should not just be a list of bullet points of everything that you did. It should tell a story about you, highlighting your strength and accomplishments. If you are not sure about your resume writing capabilities that invest in a professional resume writing service. It will cost you a few hundred dollars; but a well-written resume is worth every penny.
    • Establish credibility:

Be known as an expert in your field. How do you do that? There are several ways. You can write articles, books or blogs; speak at industry or community events, lecture at colleges and universities. Initially, you have to give information away for free, until people know you as an expert and are willing to pay you for your knowledge and skills. The key is to know how much to give away for free.
    • Leverage your network:

I have mentioned this before; and I am saying it now….the best way to find a job, contract or business is through your personal and professional network. Think about it. Your friends and colleagues know you the best. So, who else can be better spokesperson for you then them? Reach out to them; let them know that you are looking. Join professional and social networks like LinkedIn and Facebook. Build your connections and stay in touch. LinkedIn has a feature that allows others to write testimonials for you. Request your past and present colleagues, managers and team mates to write testimonials for you. The best way to do that is by writing testimonials for them first and then asking them for one.


    • Make sure you have a professional email address which is separate from your personal email address. One that has your first and last name, instead of BeerBong@hilarious.com

    • Print a set of professional looking business cards. You should be able to get some at a local print shop such as FedEx Kinko's. Or you can get them online at a cheaper price at www.vistaprint.com. Vistaprint offers a set of 250 free business cards for the cost of shipping charges only. However, they will have Vistaprint advertisement at the back. My recommendation is to spend the extra $10 to get a clean back (or if you want you can put your own advertisement their; such as services etc.)

  • Define target market

Next you need to know who to sell your services to. Start by preparing profile(s) of your target customers. Here are some examples:

Sample Profile-1 (for consulting)


B2B and B2C businesses


Anywhere in USA and Canada


Mid-size ($100 MM to $1B in revenue)


Financial Services,




Stagnant revenue growth and/or

Declining profit margin.

Sample Profile-2 (for financial planning services))


High net-worth individuals


Washington DC, Metro area


Net worth of minimum $500 K



Senior Business Executives

This will allow you focus your energy and efforts on the right type of customers. Keep in mind that you may have to come back and refine the profiles as you learn more.

  • Identify Prospective Clients

Once you have defined your ideal customer profile, build a list of prospective clients that fit the bill. Your local library is the best place to start. Many of the public libraries have access to databases such as Hoovers, Onesource etc., at free of cost or at a nominal charge. You should also check out the local newspapers and websites to find information on targeted companies.

  • Find Connections

Your next step is to find connections into these prospective clients. Use one or more of the following sources:

    • Use your network.Check out for folks in your network who work for these prospective clients. Check out network of your contacts. LinkedIn has a great feature to search such connections. It will show you if a friend of yours has a friend who has another friend who works at that company. You can use LinkedIn’s Introduction Request feature to get connected to the right person.

    • Reach out to recruiters. Many recruiting companies now work with self-employed professionals to find contract opportunities. Find some key recruiting companies in your industry. Find friends or colleagues who have worked with recruiters from these companies and get a referral. Meet/speak with the recruiter on a regular basis to build relationship.

    • Find Subcontracting opportunities.Many companies work with a handful of staffing firms to find contractors. Find out if your target companies have any such relationship. Then build relationship with those companies for subcontracting opportunities.

    • Speak with folks outside your immediate network. For example neighbors, parents at your kid’s school or folks at your church/temple.

    • Check out your school alumni database. You may find folks who work for or used to work for these clients.

  • Reach Out

Take a systematic and displined approach to reach out to each of the folks you have identified in the previous step. But before you call or email them, think about the approach you should take with each. Here are some example approaches you may consider.

    • With Friends: Reaching out to friends should be informal. It can be via phone, email or however else you and the friend are comfortable with. Ask them who else they can introduce you to in your quest.
    • With Recruiters: Send an email with a copy of your resume and follow-up with a phone call. Some recruiters like to meet in person. Embrace that opportunity.
    • With People outside your immediate network: These can be folks you met at the church, someone your friend introduced you to or someone from your alumni database. Instead of asking them to help you find work, request them for informational interviews. An informational interview is where you find out about trends of a profession, culture of a company etc. People are more willing to share this information because they don't feel obligated to help you find work. Also people love to be asked for advice. Use the conversation to build relationship. A good relationship many times leads to work opportunities.
Say Thanks. Whether it's a friend, recruiter or someone else, never forget to send a thank you note after you have these conversations.

  • Follow-up

Make sure you follow-up with the folks you spoke with on a regular basis. This is key to a sustaining relationship. If you do that sincerely and diligently then very soon you will find opportunities knocking at your door. Embrace them on your path to a succesful self employment.

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