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How to generate new opportunities in a time of uncertainty

Being a solo professional or solopreneur can be intimidating, especially if you’ve decided to make the transition to the freelance world without existing clients of your own. A study of sole proprietors in the US showed that more than one-third believed their biggest challenge to be finding the time and resources to generate new business.

Intensifying this are the challenges brought about by COVID-19. So, what’s the best approach? Here are some sure-fire ways to generate new opportunities in 2020.

Play to your strengths and unique capabilities

First things first: list what differentiates you from other businesses or individuals in your industry. You need to position yourself uniquely in the marketplace if you want new opportunities to come to you. This is easier said than done: spend time building your brand carefully, and you’ll be able to find your niche.

Make marketing a priority

It’s one thing to know what your strengths and unique capabilities are, but it’s another to effectively communicate them. For inspiration and ideas, look to other successful people in your industry. Try to emulate their marketing strategies – ensuring that you consider factors specific to your business –  tweak their strategies so they work for you.

Read up on the latest marketing trends (anywhere and everywhere – think ForbesHubspotDeloitte) and figure out your weaknesses and where your opportunities lie. For example, have you been making the most of social media? It might be worth doing a short digital marketing course, which could eventually be a networking opportunity in and of itself. Also, consider investing in paid digital marketing campaigns to get your name out there, or even consider hiring a marketing coordinator or consultant on a short-term basis to get the ball rolling. The key is- don’t assume you can rely on word-of-mouth alone to generate new opportunities. In a time when everything is so competitive, you need to be proactive.

Research, research, research

Do a deep dive on LinkedIn and find the groups and networks you should be engaging with. In your industry, identify thought leaders and influencers that you’re not following and engage with them (ideally, they’ll be a second or third degree connection to you). If you’re in a very niche industry and feel you’ve exhausted that avenue already, consider looking to similar industries and do the same – you never know where a new opportunity might spring from. And make sure you’ve set up your profile in a way that will make you stand out – these pointers from Lauren Jolda are helpful: speak to your target audience, don’t skimp on the visuals and lead with impact and results.

…And don’t forget about your existing networks

This almost goes without saying but it’s surprising how many people overlook this. We’re not talking a generic Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn post – we mean a personalised, one-on-one message with a contact you know reasonably well. It’s as simple as letting them know about the services you offer and that you’re looking for new opportunities.

No matter how well-connected you are, there are opportunities out there that are calling your name and there’s always someone who can point you in a direction that might surprise you. Try to do this as often as possible with different connections and you may be surprised with the results.

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