Seven steps to success
What comes to mind when you hear ‘soft skills’? Do you ever consider soft skills training when you think of making progress in your career? Or does it seem patronising? The lack, or sufficiency of these skills could have a massive impact on your business, and even the most technically able freelancers may not be the most successful if they undervalue the importance of these skills.
Research carried out by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) in 2015 found that a lack of soft skills cost the UK economy £88 billion. There are, however, intangible skills that, once mastered, can bring success:
Hopefully Dragon’s Den didn’t spring to mind when you read ‘creativity’, because having a big idea isn’t the be-all and end-all. Creativity is a mental trait when a person thinks outside the box and approaches tasks with initiative. This is vital for freelancers who provide solutions to problems and deliver bespoke services for their clients.
Emotional intelligence is the ability to recognise and manage your emotions as well as others. This means you are able to understand perspectives other than your own. It is a powerful quality and is very useful for effectively marketing and selling yourself to suit your client’s needs. In fact, many businesses and sales professionals struggle because they are unable to put themselves in the shoes of the customer.
Without good communication skills and the ability to convey your message, it is almost impossible to connect with your audience. A good listener can accurately receive and interpret information from a client and gather the requirements that would meet the client’s needs. Being an effective communicator will help build up trust easily with a potential client and convert more sales as a result.
Networking and relationship building
Many say: “your network is your net worth”. How true! This is particularly relevant to the freelancing world where word of mouth is king and your next business or project could be just one introduction away. This is why it is important to get yourself out there, network, connect and build relationships with people via every means or platform possible.
The ability to negotiate could literally earn you thousands more than you would naturally settle for. Having the courage to negotiate with a client about the proposed pay could help you secure a higher rate than the original offer.
Time is one thing you cannot buy more of, hence the need to manage it effectively. Your time is essential as a freelancer so, quite literally, every minute counts! If not managed effectively, you will find yourself spending more time on something which could have been finished earlier – costing you money and even delaying you starting a new contract.
Having a ‘me’ mindset can hold a freelance business back. There are many projects that can’t be done by yourself, so it is worth sharing work or partnering with other freelancers. After all, what goes around comes around. When you collaborate with other freelancers, you get access to more projects and expose yourself to a wider client base.
In today’s competitive marketplace, it is imperative for freelancers to stand out in a world of talented professionals. Beyond the qualifications, certifications and technical skillset, these complimentary qualities could be just what you need to boost your freelance business and career. Soft skills could help you land your next contract, grow your clientele, expand your portfolio, increase your network and, ultimately, improve your cash flow.
IPSE Academy, offers access to training from UK’s top providers across a range of technical and practical skills and, of course, they include the soft skills mentioned. We are committed to the training and development of our members.
Olaitan Ajimobi is IPSE's Education & Training Officer