Seven quick tips to give yourself an edge in 2017.
Start your year on the right foot professionally by getting crisp around your processes and serious about growing your business strategically. Here are a few things to consider working on to improve your work in 2017.
Review your online presence. Are your website and social network profiles working as hard as they could for you? Maybe it’s time for a makeover, or at least a thorough review. Build or refresh your existing website — include a strong, curated portfolio and impactful testimonials. Update your LinkedIn and professional profiles. Make sure your digital footprint is on-brand and consistent.
Weed your garden. Target your best clients and solicit new lucrative gigs with the goal of letting go of difficult or low-paying clients over the next 12 months. While you’re at it, seek out colleagues who are aspirational and maybe even a new mentor.
Eliminate the extraneous. Dump the distractions in your day. This could include multiple devices, unnecessary lunch dates, guilty pleasure blogs and projects you’re doing gratis. Separate out what’s not necessary from what supports your work, such as a midday run, reading industry news or networking coffee dates.
Manage your time effectively. Now that you’ve cleaned up your schedule, consider blocking out your day, setting aside specific times for responding to email or making calls. Working in time segments that you’ve put on your calendar will keep you accountable and efficient.
Home in on a specialty. Play to your strengths or own a niche. Spend some time determining what sets you apart from others in your field. Consider branding and marketing yourself as a specialist rather than a generalist.
Develop a great contract template … and use it. If you have a mentor or a colleague you admire, ask them if they would share their template. If you’ve signed client agreements, look to them for guidance. Tap your professional guilds or organizations for assistance. There are also a number of sample templates available online. Once you have a working document, hire a contract professional to review the document.
Move toward a paperless office. Take a nod from large corporations and use technology to minimize the piles of paper on your desk. Speed up your systems by using an app like CamScanner to send documents electronically, use “track changes” to edit Word docs on your screen, and backup key documents and correspondence to an external hard drive, Dropbox, and/or a flash drive.