Being your own boss comes with its fair share of perks. You’re able to work wherever and whenever you want, build a business you love with clients and collaborators who inspire you, the list goes on. With that said, the freelancing life, amazing as it is on the whole, can also have its challenges.
A common challenge many independent workers face is the atrophy of certain skills that you regularly practice as a full-time, in office employee. In this post, we’re covering the skills freelancers need but may miss out on due to the unconventional nature of their professional lives.
Public speaking skills
When you work on-site or are employed at an office, speaking in front of large groups is a common occurrence. Lacking the frequent practice of standing up in front of a group and presenting, you might find that freelancing can lead to rusty public speaking abilities.
However, if you want to really make it big as a freelancer, you will need to market yourself. You will have to go out there and prove yourself as an authority in your domain and public speaking opportunities—whether on the ground or online in the form of webinars—are the most effective ways to do so. Plus, a few years down the line, if you decide to quit freelancing and get back to mainstream employment, weak presentation skills can deter your self confidence.
Here are some tips on working your public speaking muscles:
- Watch videos of skilled public speakers and mimic their tactics.
- Practice on your cat.
- Program your own webinars on the topics you have expertise in, or offer to lead one hosted by a third-party.
- Seek out speaking opportunities in your neighborhood. Toastmasters is a good place to start.
Management is one of the hardest functions present in a traditional workforce. As a freelancer, you might not be in the business of managing a team, but you will need to hone the core tenets of great management—things like exercising empathy, being a strong communicator and prioritizing ethics. Freelancers, especially, need to be well versed in each of these skills. And while you might not have a team depending on you, you’ll ultimately need to manage yourself, your projects, your clients (and their expectations) and the sub-contractors with whom you collaborate.
Living a life outside of a traditional office, freelancers can tend to let their management skills slide. But they’re important to cultivate—probably now more than ever. So, how can you hone your management skills from the comfort of your home office?
- Read bestselling management books and take note of how the lessons can be applied to your own professional calling.
- Take free online courses on management. (AND CO recently summarized ten top learning platforms).
- Finally, remember that a good manager is about being able to give credit where it’s due, demonstrating gratitude and being able to motivate and gain the loyalty of others. Practice these skills in your daily life.
As a self-employed person, being able to clearly articulate your abilities to the right audiences is core to your ability to sustain a growing and stable business. While large companies employee marketing and sales teams to achieve this end, solopreneurs must pick up the slack on their own. Fortunately, being able to sell yourself (and your talents) can be an extremely rewarding facet of your work as a freelancer. If you’re passionate enough about your talents to “go it alone,” then with the right best practices you’ll be talking yourself up in no time. Here are some ways to sharpen your sales skills:
- Create an elevator pitch and craft your career headline. Practice it in the mirror. Then practice it on everyone.
- Always be selling. Send cold emails to relevant prospects, and make the most of local networking opportunities.
- Educate yourself. Read books and blogs on sales and use the learnings in your sales efforts.
- Know how to position your skills in the context of a prospect’s business objectives. This is incredibly important. At the end of the day, it’s not about you. Rather, it’s about why your skills are valuable in the context of someone else’s goals.
As a solopreneur, you’ll wear many hats. You’ll also find that you might need to take a more proactive approach to your personal development. Take stock of your current skillset and seek out opportunities to practice and perfect these even as you navigate your independent career.