How to Keep Busy Between Assignments

How to Keep Busy Between Assignments
15 April 2011 John Moore

What do you do between assignments? If you are a consultant, from time to time you will experience lag time between client projects.

Don’t use the time to rest up, watch the latest antiques auction show on the television or to decorate the spare bedroom: use it to generate business. Don’t allow this time to go to waste.  So, what are some things you could be doing? Here are just a few ideas.

Action 1: Get Your Finances Up To Date

When you are busy working on client projects, it’s all too easy to fall behind on your book-keeping and accounting. Leaving that unpaid invoice for slightly longer than you would like increases the chances of a bad debt or very late payment. It can serve as a block to getting repeat business with the client, so when you are between projects take the time to make sure that your finances are all in order. This might mean:

  • Going through unpaid invoices and sending a polite, but firm letter reminding overdue clients to pay – better still invest your time in drafting a standard letter to save time next time a client decides to pay late
  • Ensuring all sales and expenditure, including your personal expenses have been prepared and entered on to your book-keeping /accounting system
  • Ensuring all of your tax and VAT returns are up to date
  • Identifying ways to reduce future costs such as checking out new utilities suppliers

Action 2: Database Development and Networking

Take time to work your marketing database and to build new contacts. Keeping your database up to date is key, so take time to re-establish contacts and check Peter is still the CEO of XYZ Limited. Take 20 minutes to add all of those business cards that you have collected  to your marketing database. Aim to catch up with new contacts by dropping them a short e-mail, adding them to your LinkedIn network or calling them.

Take time during your downtime to brush up on any networking you may have neglected.  If you do not have a Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook Business page, use this time to find out what you need to do. If you have, then start some discussions, join some new groups and up-date your personal profiles.

One of your objectives should be to get your business card out there, so find out what networking events you could go to. Don’t just think of the obvious ones, try out more unusual ones otherwise you are likely to meet the same people you always meet!

When at an event, pick out the BIG FISH you want to meet and leave the MINNOWS to other people. Work the room and seek out opportunities for you to help others, rather than looking at how they can help you. Follow up after the event with action and honour your promises and commitments – this will make you stand out, as most people don’t!

Action 3: Internet Marketing

When was the last time you up-dated your website or sent out a newsletter. Old news on websites is bad news. Use your time to freshen things up. Assuming you are between assignments and the last one was a success, ask your client for a testimony or write up a case study showcasing your impact.

Go on-line and check out what some of your past customers are doing and whilst you are on-line why not check out your competition. Assess your website’s effectiveness by using Google Analytics and re-visiting your search engine optimisation strategy – if you haven’t got one, now would be a great time to get one!

Action 4: Product and Personal Development

Downtime between projects is a great time to work on product and personal development. As a consultant ,often you are the product, so brush up on your skills and techniques. If you have a great idea, but have never quite got around to developing it into a product, now is the time. Other activities might include:

  • Research into new markets or consulting techniques
  • Learning how to use new strategy tools and techniques
  • Writing an article on your niche area of consulting
  • Learning about a new skill or industry
  • Volunteering your services to a charity or a cause close to your heart
  • Going to an exhibition or a trade show possibly in an area that is new to you – interrogate the exhibitors – they are desperate to talk to people so you can learn a lot  from them

One thing I have learned in life is that busy people are attractive. Busy consultants attract busy clients; they attract better assignments and they attract better fees. So the next time you have a little bit of time on your hands, get busy getting busy!

John Moore has over 20 years experience of training and developing Managers, Coaches, Consultants and businesses. As Managing Director of Exponential Training, John researches, speaks, blogs and writes about how to improve performance. He also designs and delivers engaging, fun and interactive learning programmes. John is a Fellow Chartered Manager and has worked with managers and organisations in over 20 different countries.

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