Contractor essentials: 10 tips to promoting brand You

Promoting brand You

Whether you’re just starting out in contracting or have been doing it a while, when you run your own Limited Company you’re responsible for securing your next contract. Self-promotion isn’t a comfortable thing for many people. For others, it’s time consuming or just a bit of a pain! Either way, unless your skills are so niche and in demand that you are highly sought after, it’s something you’re going having to have to do so you can avoid unplanned time between contracts as much as possible.

Check out these 10 tips to see what you could be doing better…or get started on today!

 

1. Networking tools

Business contacts are an essential part of you securing new business. Rather than viewing people as competitors see them as a potential support network. Remember if you create a good relationship with them, they may just turn out to be a referral source for new work and contracts. They may be overloaded and see you as an ally. View everyone as a potential resource and tap in.

 

2. Networking events and business cards

Sometimes the thought of networking events can be a drag, but really they are an opportunity to make new contacts, find support and a source of referral work. Check out what networking events are happening in your area as well as through any professional bodies you belong to. It may seem daunting but remember everyone is in the same boat and looking to connect. A friendly face really goes a long way, and what’s more, people will remember you if you give them a warm reception. Your business cards are a useful tool at networking events to ensure that if people remember your face, they know immediately how to get in touch, especially if you then connect online…

 

3. Networking online

LinkedIn is the main online networking portal for businesses. As a contractor it really is worth joining. Ideally dedicate some time every day to checking your account and news feed. Take time to build a list of relevant and engaged contacts. Although it may take a little while, your name and profile will become visible to new people, and the truth is you never know, your skills and persona could provide the solution to a specific problem they are looking to solve. You can also use it as a hub to discuss issues with other contractors in the same line of business as you.

 

4. Technology tools

Going it alone means being organised! Keeping track of your invoices and communications is really important for maintaining a professional image – maximise your use of business software and apps designed to help you. Make it a priority to know what is available for business.

 

5. Cloud storage

Cloud storage systems like DropBox and Google Docs allow you to store, share, access and edit your documents easily whilst you are out and about. This is essential if you’re travelling, however, they also give you peace of mind as a business filing backup option for important documents and client work. Check out our blog for more tips and apps for working on the move.

 

6. Time tracking and invoicing

Most contractors and freelancers charge an hourly or daily rate. It is important for you to accurately track your time to produce a relevant invoice for your client giving evidence of the time you have spent on a project. Time tracking software and apps such as Toggl allow you to easily track your day – actually down to the second. This allows you to save essential time on unnecessary paperwork and helps you to maintain a professional image.

 

7. Productivity

Gone are the days of guesswork, with a wide range of software and apps for business focused on productivity, your smartphone’s app store is a gold mine. It may well hold the key to the project management problem that you have been searching for. Take the time to ask around or play with your phone apps in your downtime.

 

8. Professional tools ­ industry bodies and resources

If you do want to take a more hands on approach, there are numerous professional resources available for contractors and freelancers, providing information on everything from setting up your business, to tax and IR35 legislation. A specialist contractor accountant can take care of all of this for you.

 

9. Self-motivation

In order to be a successful contractor you do need to have a healthy internal resource of self-motivation. Make sure you are up to date with the latest trends in your sector. If you are bang on trend and have the right qualifications, you can charge more and also win more contracts. The HMRC website also provides a useful no frills resource, filled with essential information on legislation surrounding the various trading models common amongst contractors and freelancers. You can find out information on how to set up a Limited Company and more. At Intouch we specialise in helping contractors at every stage of their career and can help you from the moment you even start thinking about moving into contracting.

 

10. Your trusted accountant

They are likely to be your main professional adviser so keep in contact with them to ensure you’re getting the most out of contracting. Contact Intouch Accounting today to chat through your circumstances and discuss joining us.

 

This blog has been prepared by Intouch Accounting. While we have made every attempt to ensure that the information contained in this blog has been obtained from reliable sources, Intouch is not responsible for any errors or omissions, or for the results obtained from the use of this information. This blog should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional accounting advisers. If you have any specific queries, please contact Intouch Accounting.

7 ways to harness the power of social media to boost your business in 2016

Harness the power of social media

When you’re looking for contracts, you can be pretty sure your target market is already online. My last blog identified five steps contractors should follow when starting out using social media. Once you’ve got the basics covered, you need to harness the potential of social media and make it work for you.

 

Here, Sally Newman, Director of Marketing at Intouch Accounting, offers some tips on how to do just this.

 

Emojis

They’re creeping in more often and are fast becoming a different and powerful way to communicate many words without using any words. We’ve seen Facebook launch Reactions to quickly get the message across. How and why emojis are used is going to get more varied and interesting in 2016.

 

Right time, right place

Avoid social media becoming a burden by being disciplined in how much time you spend on it and where you concentrate your efforts. Understand who your market is and find out where they hang out. Then focus the resources you have.

 

Tactical blocking

If you find you’re often tempted to go online to ‘just quickly check’ and emerge three hours later having been distracted by the latest fitness trend or hilarious video of a dog doing cartwheels, then set social media blockers to limit your access.

 

Where to start?

There are so many social media platforms to choose from, you could easily panic and join too many for fear of missing out…or end up not joining any of them and retreating to a dark room with a flannel over your face.

 

Here’s a brief overview:

  •  LinkedIn: widely used by professionals aged 30-49
  • Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest drive the most social media traffic back to websites
  • YouTube, Google+ and LinkedIn drive the most engaged traffic
  • Instagram: 90% of users are aged below 35

 

Check out this blog for more in depth pointers about which social media channels you should use for your business.

Hot Networks

 

Connect with influencers

The beauty of social media is that you can easily connect with key influencers in your market – no matter how niche it is. Whether it’s thought leadership, networking, sharing ideas, or sparking conversations, the possibilities are many and far reaching so you can be present where you want to be and who you want to be with.

 

Mix it up

Keep your posts engaging and your content interesting. Infographics, videos, testimonials – get them all in there. Interestingly white papers and ebooks are not so successful. Get to know your audience, see what others are doing and experiment to see what works.

 

Don’t be shy

Word of mouth is powerful so don’t be afraid to ask your existing network to engage with your content – especially in the early days and particularly if they are fellow contractors and in the same market.

How do you get the best out of social media? Share your tips with us by connecting via your chosen social channel. We’re on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn, so why not start following us today!

 

This blog has been prepared by Intouch Accounting. While we have made every attempt to ensure that the information contained in this blog has been obtained from reliable sources, Intouch is not responsible for any errors or omissions, or for the results obtained from the use of this information. This blog should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional accounting advisers. If you have any specific queries, please contact Intouch Accounting.

Contractor essentials: 5 steps to starting out in social media

Starting out in social media

Social media is constantly evolving and is here to stay…for the foreseeable future anyway! It can be a great route to finding new contracts and access to the latest industry news, available to you while you’re on the move. So don’t bury your head in the sand: find out how you can get started today and build your foundations in social media to propel your contractor career.

 

Sally Newman, Director of Marketing at Intouch Accounting, has written this blog for beginners. The social media novices who have resisted until now but know they can’t ignore it forever! My next blog will examine how you can harness the full potential of social media for your business in 2016.

 

1. Observe then contribute

If you’re nervous about how to get started on social media, watch how others do it first and get comfortable with the concepts. It can be a challenge to get your point across in a 140 character tweet or gauge the tone right for a LinkedIn post so don’t feel compelled to rush in on day one.

 

2. The complete picture

Before you ‘go public’ make sure your profile is complete for each platform – a decent, professional picture, correct spelling, clear and up to date information. It sounds obvious but still worth a mention here.

 

3. Don’t spread yourself too thin

Get familiar with where other people in your marketplace and industry are. You might choose to focus on one social media platform specifically to find work and another to keep up to date with industry news.

 

When it comes to contributing, you’re better off posting high quality content than just making noise for the sake of it. In a time-starved world, attention spans can be remarkably short and people will move on to the next post/tweet/update/share very quickly.

 

4. Public v private

Be selective about what the world can see. Depending on your line of business, you may choose to keep Facebook and Instagram for your private life and focus your professional life on LinkedIn and Twitter. Whichever way round you do it, be absolutely certain that whatever you want to keep private is just that. One misguided post on your Facebook account could dent your career – and once it’s online, it’s there forever.

 

5. It’s a two way street

Taking time to engage in other people’s posts can really pay off as your knowledge and valid opinion will be seen by all of their followers or connections. Know when to lead and when to follow.

 

While you digest all of this, make sure you connect with Intouch Accounting and be among the first to get the latest blogs, guides, motivation Monday or Friday humour posts. Whether you prefer Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook or Google+, we’d love you to join us!

What social media platform works best for you? Let us know by leaving us a comment below or sending us a message on social media!

 

This blog has been prepared by Intouch Accounting. While we have made every attempt to ensure that the information contained in this blog has been obtained from reliable sources, Intouch is not responsible for any errors or omissions, or for the results obtained from the use of this information. This blog should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional accounting advisers. If you have any specific queries, please contact Intouch Accounting.

Let’s get social!

Let’s get social!

We know that in this technology driven world you’re probably asked daily to ‘like’ this and ‘share’ that from various company’s social media platforms, without possibly ever seeing any real value from doing so.

Here at Intouch we actively use our social platforms to share content which we feel is of real value to freelancers and contractors and not just pump out news for the sake of it. Take a look at some of the platforms we’re currently featuring on and the types of content we share, to see if there’s one (or many!) which you’d like to join us on. Let’s get social!

 

LinkedIn

Our LinkedIn page has it’s finger on the contractor pulse. It’s first for our thought leadership articles and opinion pieces. If something is going to affect our clients, we will make sure that we explain it and offer advice here first. Our MD, Paul Gough regularly discusses topics with the Intouch LinkedIn community, so if you want to know about the successes or challenges contractors are going to experience, then our LinkedIn page is for you.

 

Twitter

Interested in what’s going on within the wider scope of contracting? Wondering what Contractor UK is talking about, or when IPSE’s next self-employed event is? We make sure we share the topics and news that interests you, whilst also posting all the usual new blogs and ebriefs from our website.

 

Facebook

Looking for a little more light hearted contractor news, which still covers what you need to know? Then the Intouch Facebook page is for you! Whilst we still share our blogs and ebriefs, we also look at the fun side of contracting and celebrate what working for yourself truly encompasses. Keep an eye open for our Monday motivational post to help start your week off right and celebrate Fridays with our humour posts.

 

Google+

If you need a social feed that predominantly delivers our blogs and ebriefs, then our Google+ page should be on your follow list. Whilst we do occasionally share news stories and articles from other sources, our Google+ page showcases our latest content that is important to contractors. So if you don’t have time to visit our resources section to check if we’ve published new content, then let our Google+ page feed it to you.

 

Youtube

Prefer visuals to reading? Our Youtube channel features videos such as showcasing the top tips on how to increase your take home pay. Keep posted for new videos on hot topics that affect contractors.

 

Whichever social platform is your preferred choice, by connecting with at least one of the Intouch profiles you’ll always be connected to the latest contractor news. We look forward to sharing our content with you!

 

This blog has been prepared by Intouch Accounting. While we have made every attempt to ensure that the information contained in this blog has been obtained from reliable sources, Intouch is not responsible for any errors or omissions, or for the results obtained from the use of this information. This blog should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional accounting advisers. If you have any specific queries, please contact Intouch Accounting.