There is more on the line in the hiring of an outside expert than many Solopreneurs realize. When a business leader chooses to hire external talent to take on an important project, obtaining evidence of a prospective hire’s competence, apparent ability to collaborate and overall reliability is how in-house decision-makers evaluate who among potential hires might be trusted to take the reins. Obtaining evidence of the necessary skills is essential, for the risks to the decision-maker are considerable.
Who, does it seem, is most capable of delivering the desired outcomes and adhering to the time line and budget? Whose style of work is likely to be a good fit with participating in-house staff? Which expert will make the decision-maker look good? Increase your chances of winning good assignments by implementing an interview strategy that will satisfy the prospective client and benefit you.
Content marketing ROI
Can we consider your presence on at least one social media platform to be a given? Social media is your 24/7 first line of evidence that tells the world you’ve got what it takes to deliver. Through those channels, the ambitious Solopreneur uses content marketing to display the fundamentals of his/her professional knowledge, experience and big-picture thinking in a blog, newsletter, white papers, video presentations, or webinars. Case studies, client testimonials and recommendations give first-person, on-the-record accounts of the success you’ve helped other clients achieve.
The mission is to enhance the perception of the brand with a well-told narrative that prospective clients will consider authentic and trustworthy. Include links to social media on your website and add links to your email signature block, to encourage prospects to click and learn about what you bring to the table.
The value of your knowledge
As you communicate your bona fides in the client meeting, be aware that providing granular, detailed answers to any highly specific questions, should the client ask, is a boundary violation. You are cautioned to be discreet. When you too easily give away the intellectual property that is your expertise, the incentive to pay for it decreases. Unique value and exclusive access to that value must define your brand.
Protect your knowledge and prepare for client interviews in advance by anticipating questions based on what you’ve been told about the project. Rehearse responses that will adequately inform and reassure the client and diplomatically protect your store of knowledge.
Time and expertise are among your most valuable resources and it is essential that you monitor their expenditure carefully. If you agree to speak with a potential client at no charge, or agree to a project discussion meeting, do not allow the conversation to turn into a fishing expedition. “Because I do not know the full scope of the project and its goals, I’m unable to give detailed answers” is a response that will politely shut down those who would take advantage.
If it is your practice to offer free 30 or 60 minute consultations with interested parties, as distinct from a formal client meeting, it makes sense to address about three or four relevant, but nonspecific questions, and then make it known that if more information is needed, an hourly consulting rate will apply.