Selling yourself

Standing
out from the competition isn’t easy in the current crowded interim marketplace.
Graham Bird, director of interim and strategic resourcing at interim provider Chiumento,
has some tips on self-marketing for interim managers

Every
year, companies spend millions of pounds developing and communicating their
brands. As an interim manager, there is no corporate marketing machine fuelling
your career – when it comes to selling yourself, you are on your own.

A
recent Chiumento survey highlights that 50 per cent of interims believe there
is more competition to secure assignments than a year ago – a trend that
underlines the importance of good self-marketing.

But
how do you manage a successful career as an interim manager and stand out from
the crowd? We have some advice for interims keen to establish themselves in a
competitive market.

Let
your CV do the talking

Your
CV is a key document and will influence whether a potential interim provider or
client will call you for a meeting. First impressions count, so you must keep
your CV current and make sure that it outlines specifically what you offer and
what you have achieved in your career, especially in the last five years.

Keep
your technical and project management skills updated, so it is easier to market
relevant skills for each assignment. Clients and interim providers are
selective about who they see, so you must view the CV as your personal advert
to help you secure business.

Take
responsibility

It
is important to keep all your contacts fresh. For people who don’t like selling
themselves, this may not come naturally. However, in today’s market it is just
as necessary to network as it is to have strong technical skills – if you don’t
work hard at this side of business, the opportunities will dry up. It is
crucial to contact your personal network to keep them up to speed with your
career development. This will not only inform them of your current situation,
but they could also end up sharing their contacts, effectively doubling your
chance of assignments. You will be in a better position to speak to these
individuals if you come highly recommended. 

The
results from our survey show that interims are starting to realise the
importance of taking responsibility for their own success, with 25 per cent
identifying that having good personal contacts is the single most important
factor in achieving new business.

Talk
to providers

Interims
not only need to market themselves directly to companies and existing contacts,
they also must develop new ones. Using providers such as Chiumento will help to
spread your net as wide as possible. You should encourage a good balance of
self-marketing while maintaining good relations with a provider, so that
networking takes place on two levels. Don’t rely solely on your own personal
marketing – ignoring the fact that providers have access to contacts in large
organisations is limiting your chances of assignments.

Remember
that providers have contacts within all sorts of organisations, public and
private, with which they will have close relationships and exclusive contracts.

Attend
CIPD meetings

An
excellent way to build new contacts is to attend local CIPD meetings, and every
interim should be an active member. Each branch will have a programme of events
helping you learn new skills and be part of a specialist networking hub. It
opens up opportunities to talk with others through a local professional
institute. If a strong enough bond is forged with fellow members, you will soon
benefit from the mutual sharing of referrals and leads.

Take
time out for training

You
must keep up-to-date with the latest developments and thinking in your field to
make sure that your skills are always cutting edge, because that is what
clients demand. It is not easy to make the time to update your skills but it is
crucial that you do – think of it as product development.

Some
interim providers will run events that go a long way towards keeping your
technical skills updated. These sessions will also provide further networking
opportunities within the interim management community.

Keep
up the good work

As
an interim manager, you are only as good as your last assignment. It is
important to establish your credibility and demonstrate your expertise while
working on an assignment so that you are remembered by the client and the
interim provider. At the start of the placement, agree clear and measurable
objectives and make sure you deliver. It sounds simple, but it is amazing how
many interims stumble into assignments without really getting to the bottom of
what exactly is expected of them. Knowing your objectives gives you the chance
to exceed them – and the opportunity for you to illustrate to your provider and
client by exactly how much.

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