Some of you will know that I have been working as a freelance consultant for just under a year. It was the end of March 2009 when I parted company with my former employer.
This time a year ago, I was finalising details for a social outing in London with a select group of former colleagues and contacts whilst finalising my plans for my business.
At that stage, near the end of April, I had purchased a new laptop computer and mobile phone, started creating a website and set the wheels in motion for a business bank account, amongst other things. Those who know me weren’t too surprised that:
- I had decide “go freelance”
- it didn’t take me long to make that decision
- the organisation / administration was in hand
I remain an organised person who likes to get things done.
What has surprised me in that year?
That, of course, is a different question. Whilst I knew that it can take many business managers and owners a long time to decide on a course of action, I remain surprised by the length of time it can take some organisations. I am also pleasantly surprised when the decisions are made quickly. However, I get frustrated by the people who can’t manage a polite, assertive “No thanks”.
I have often helped people develop their personal skills, including a not insignificant amount of “Working the room” and other skills related to networking. I was prepared to do this, in buckets, and generally enjoy it. What I have found a positive surprise has been the amount of supportiveness there is in many business networking groups.
In addition, I’ve been surprised (in both positive and negative ways) by those I’ve stayed in touch with and those I haven’t. Some former colleagues have been great at making sure we stay in touch and meeting up occasionally – those who had left before me and those who are still there. Some of the external consultants I have bought services from have also become a firm feature in my contacts list with calls and emails on a fairly regular basis. Some of us continue to discuss opportunities to work together, as well as refer work to each other.
Through the power of networking, not least LinkedIn, I have found a number of former colleagues, many of whom have become great contacts again, as well as leads into specific work.
I have also become better at reflecting and I’ve learnt lots. What have you discovered as a micro-business? Which collaborations and alliances have surprised you? What positive advice can you give to others?
Contact me if you’d like to discuss ways of building your networking and collaboration skills and, if you are in the area, I’d be pleased to invite you to one of the groups I attend.