Whether you are new to interim management, or a highly experienced interim executive, with the emergence of the gig economy and the talk of IR35 potentially impacting the market, you may have noticed that the competition for assignments is seemingly greater than ever before.
The positive in this however (and there is one) is that more organisations will be focusing on the value of hiring ‘true’ interims into their organisation. What I’m talking about here, are individuals that would deliver assignments outside IR35.
Historically, the ‘value’ of interim managers has been misunderstood by a lot of businesses. Interims may have been used to ‘fill’ vacancies within organisations but with the IR35 legislation coming into play in 2020, we have noticed clients are now focusing on the advantages and reasons behind using ‘true’ interim managers. Experts who can lead and drive change programmes, bringing a wealth of knowledge and ‘know-how’ with them.
However, with current supply vs. demand, it can create an increased challenge for individual interim executives who are often ‘competing’ for roles which in turn can then lead to longer periods ‘on the bench’ between assignments.
Here are some of my top tips on how you can present yourself as a go-to interim executive online by using content and social selling in a both a cost and time efficient way, during periods of work as well as whilst you are looking for your next assignment.
Why do I need a social voice?
In my opinion, the approach to obtaining a new assignment should now be multi-channel in order to create as much ‘noise’ about your brand (your company) as possible.
In a world that is being impacted by constant technological innovation, now more than ever I would advocate that you are selling your services directly to clients, as well as working with a few selected providers such as Frazer Jones.
I am sure you will have seen not only our own blogs, but also those from your peers or previous colleagues that have become increasingly popular. With the increase in traffic on social platforms such as LinkedIn, it has become easier than ever to have a social voice.
Step 1 – Define your target audience
To market your interim services successfully, you should start by defining who you are going to target. If you don’t already know, then you need to understand who ‘buys’ your services and understand the behaviours of these individuals. A key focus should also be their typical pain points and what services you can offer in order to alleviate these.
Often, I meet experienced executives who are heavily networked with individuals within the same function as them, but not with the actual executives who hire people like them - this makes no sense at all especially when you need to take your brand to market! Whilst you might have a strong network within your own discipline, it is unlikely that your peer group will hire your services or do so frequently enough to maintain your business.
Step 2 – Connect
Wherever possible you should aim to connect to your target audience using mutual connections / recommendations.
Once you are engaged and in dialogue, you can start to form a mutually beneficial relationship that may develop into a sales opportunity. But be careful not to try and monetise these relationships too early however, very few of us like to be ‘sold to’ – in the current world, generosity of time and value add is key to building long term relationships.
Step 3 – Produce content
Once connected to your target audience (although I think this is something that should be done continuously) you need to start creating content that focuses on providing solutions to your audience’s pain points.
Consistency of output is key here, as is relevancy of what you are producing. You are your own business / brand and I always recommend that you think who you are, as well as what you stand for.
Whenever I’m reading, talking or watching, I’m frequently asking myself or suggesting to others “is there a blog to be had here?”.
As well as writing your own blogs, it is smart to curate others work and share thought leaders content with your network, clearly crediting them along the way. You could also send your content directly to your target audience.
Just remember to write about what is interesting to your audience, not just what’s interesting to you. I see no relevance to posts on ‘I went here’, ‘I met…’ - I’d say that this is more Facebook material, because as the reader, it offers no value add to me.
Step 4 – Take the relationship offline
Look out for target clients liking or sharing your content. Once you have been able to add value and develop the relationship, you could be ready to take it offline. Once in front of a potential client you can solidify the relationship and look to identify their pain that you can solve with your services, this becomes your sales opportunity…
The key to success is to start early and be consistent. Content marketing and social selling are more of a slow burner, so if you wait until you are active in the market to start publishing and connecting, it will likely be too late.
Aim to publish frequent blogs (or push it to a vlog if you're feeling creative) and actively network and build LinkedIn connections on the go (I’m actually writing this on the train on the way to work!).
Keep an eye out for connections that comment, like or share your posts and engage with them as well as the wider community. In this era, reciprocity is the key to cultivating meaningful online relationships and the knowledge and insight you build becomes your power!