Step right up and learn from the master! When I was first starting out, I made a ton of mistakes and lost out on an awful lot of money. Want to know how? Read on!
Today’s question is from Mike F. who asks, “I know you’ve been in the business for a while. Is there anything you really regret doing when you were starting out?”
Well, I’ll tell you: There’s nothing that I necessarily regret. It was all valuable learning for me, and it lets me pass on that learning to you, so you can avoid making the same mistakes.
But did I do stupid stuff? Absolutely! Did I miss out on lots of money? You bet! And would you like to avoid doing the same? Here’s what to avoid.
Not regularly prospecting. Inconsistency, thy name is Nicki. (Or, at least, it was.) I would be a good business person and prospect like crazy, but once I got work in, I’d drop prospecting like a bad habit.
And that, of course, led to dry spells and worrying about money. Not a great place to be, no matter where you are in your career.
Being unprepared to pitch ideas. I’d land a meeting with a potential client, dress myself up for the meeting like a professional, sit down to chat…and go mute when they asked, “So, what could you do for me?”
It’s not their job to come up with ways you can be of value to them; it’s ours. If you head into a meeting without any ideas for things you can do, be prepared to head back out without the job.
Being lazy about creating my portfolio. Guess what? It’s not enough to just throw some images up on a page. (It’s also definitely not enough to just through them up on a blog. …Guilty.)
You need to be judicious about what goes up there; you need to organize it, and you need to give context to your samples by explaining what problems you solved for the company. Being lazy about your portfolio is a career-killer.
Not having my portfolio ready to show. When you get a call from a recruiter or potential client, you need to be available to come in and meet immediately. You know what doesn’t work? Saying, “Oh, um, yeah…I need to update my portfolio. Can I push that meeting back a few days?”
Almost as bad is taking the meeting, but having to spend all night updating your portfolio. You’re not going to give your best interview on no sleep. Believe me.
Failing to identify why people should hire me. I used to think that once I got the meeting with the potential client, I was home free. I could show my portfolio, be personable, and they would just know that I was the right one for them.
Not so much.
We’re always going to be up against competition for any job, and if we can’t concisely and confidently explain what sets us apart from everyone else, we’re not going to get the work. It’s not enough to be nice, it’s not enough to have good samples, and it’s not enough to really want it. You need to be able to explain what you bring to the table that no one else does. What’s your benefit to consumer?
Your turn! Have you made any rookie mistakes (that you’ve learned from since)? Let us know in the comments below!