Establishing profiles that generate matches for consultants requires time and effort. However the digital marketplace provides the tools to help accelerate the process. For instance, basic biographical data can be downloaded directly from LinkedIn®, resumes transferred in an instant and professional profiles can be created in easy “point and click” steps. Despite the ready access and ease of use of these online features, they are often underutilized resulting in incomplete profiles. At the most basic level a well done profile tells a story of who you are, and why a client should select you over perhaps hundreds of other similarly qualified candidates. Given the importance of the personal profile, it’s amazing how often highly qualified and creative people fall short in professionally presenting their experience and credentials. The expanded scope and accelerated speed of the digital marketplace tend to highlight shortcomings. Sadly the results of an incomplete profile are often predictable. Failure to provide any one of the essential steps can greatly decrease the opportunity for selection. For lesser efforts falling short in multiple categories, it’s unlikely the profile will ever be reviewed, let alone seriously considered. The good news is that there are several relatively straightforward actions that consultants can take to bolster their profile and increase their opportunities for selection. While these actions may seem obvious to some, the truth is that many consultants in the professional marketplace will benefit from this checklist. Taking the following steps will increase your probability of selection for that next big opportunity:
- Provide a complete profile. Be sure to provide a complete resume and fill in additional on-line profile information completely. A profile completed to 80 percent versus 30 percent will receive more consideration. Increasingly in the online marketplace there are opportunities to provide summary information of particular interest to prospective clients. Be sure your entries and documents are thorough, accurate and complete.
- Use clear and concise language. Many consultants are selected to help with government proposals and/or deliverables. Your attention to detail and clarity will be viewed as an indication of the quality of work you will likely produce.
- Provide valid references. One of the important concerns often repeated about engaging consultants through the online marketplace is the need to maintain integrity and quality. A key method to address these concerns is a robust reference and referral capability. Be prepared to promptly provide valid and relevant references.
- Give yourself full credit. Document your experience, certifications and credentials, while being careful not to overstate your case. It’s common for experienced professionals to list ten, twenty or sometimes more agencies for which they’ve developed proposals. The same holds true for specific programs or contracts. These listings are helpful because in a global search for talent those keywords may lead to your profile qualifying for consideration.
- Respond promptly to prospective clients. If you’re interested in the opportunity let them know by providing thorough responses in a timely and courteous manner. This is important in the digital marketplace, because such interaction is another indicator to clients of what it might be like to work with you.
- Don’t wait to be asked! Raise your hand for opportunities of interest. State-of-the-art platforms enable candidates to identify and highlight their interest in specific programs and contracts and request to be matched with a contractor. If they don’t, using old fashioned outreach methods will work. The marketplace is a two way street that can work well for both consultants and contractors.
- Be prepared to move quickly. In the digital marketplace selections can be made in minutes, versus hours or days. Speed is an advantage. Anticipate requests for rapid quotes, quick start dates and timely delivery. Also be prepared to respond to requests for availability and rates. Those who can operate most effectively in this fast-paced environment will have a greater likelihood of doing well and garnering their share of repeat business.