In terms of going fully independent you have to go beyond the profession. Whilst people are seeking you out on the basis of profession, then anyone in the profession will do and can replace you. They have to be seeking you out: recognizing your uniqueness. That added value that only you can provide.
Your uniqueness, this differentiating characteristic, is perhaps the most important part of your professional reputation, your brand.
And you do have a brand. It might be good or it might be not so good. It might be very crisp or it might be fuzzy. It might be consistent or it might be ambiguous. It might be helping you or it might be hurting you. Whatever it is, your brand tells people what they should expect from you.
Here are a few considerations I view as most important in managing the "Jim De Piante" brand, along with tips for cultivating your own brand:
Little things matter. Every interaction with other people contributes to your brand. Often, it's a seemingly small thing, such as promptly returning a call, that can leave a lasting impression.
Quality matters. As in all things related to reputation, it can take a long time to build a good brand, but you can destroy it very quickly. People talk about you. They talk about your work. You want to be sure they're only saying positive things.
Consistency matters. When people think or talk about you, you want them to remember, think and say you can be counted on to do certain things a certain way.
Whether you're an employee or an independent consultant, the project you're working on is going to end. Then what? Who will seek you out and why?
I'd be interested to hear how you manage your personal brand.
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