Freelance consultants usually have to grapple with downtime that is imposed upon us during the Christmas holiday season. After the first week in December, it can be impossible to drag a project to the starting gate. Clients will either shift into party mode or year-end mode and concentrate on wrapping up their own projects before December 25. Unless the client is facing a January deadline ( thank goodness I’ve got one of those this year, even if the project is miniscule), they will put the brakes on things until after the first week in January and there isn’t a blessed thing we can do about it.
But time is our most precious resource, unrecoverable when wasted. So the question is, how do Freelancers make hay during the Holidays? In fact, there is no reason that the Holiday season should be less than productive for your consultancy. I offer here a few suggestions of activities that will pave the way to a stronger and more satisfying New Year:
Use the Holiday season downtime to reflect on the events of the year, professional and personal. How do you feel about how things turned out? Did you recognize good opportunities? Did you have the moxie to create still more opportunities? Were you able to overcome obstacles, or dodge adversity? Did you achieve you financial goals? Did you pick up any good clients? Did you get repeat business? Did you enter into any good relationships?
Take an inventory of your year. Make a list of what you consider to have been your major accomplishments of 2012. What fell into place for you, what ambitious plans did you initiate and carry out? How did you reward yourself for your achievements? How did those achievements impact how you feel about yourself and your abilities? Look for patterns of behavior that put you on the path to either success or frustration. Find the lessons and make note of what you must and must not do again in the future.
Once you’ve taken stock and accounted for successes and missteps, you will be ready to incorporate the wisdom into repositioning yourself, or otherwise refining and polishing your image. While you’re at it, take an objective look at your website, your LinkedIn page and other social media and your printed marketing collaterals. Recite your standard elevator pitch out loud and listen to how it sounds. If someone walked up to you and gave you that spiel, what would be your reaction?
Do your marketing materials and elevator pitch address the concerns of your clients and prospects as we approach 2013 and the Fiscal Cliff? Are you relevant? Maybe it’s time to tweak and present you and your skills in a way that will remind clients that your value proposition remains valuable.
The Holidays can be the perfect time to arrange to cross paths with prospects and former clients with whom you would like to forge or renew relationships and get them thinking about ways to do business with you. If you read last week’s post, you may have already sent greeting cards to former clients. There may still be time to make the rounds of selected late season parties, where you might get an introduction to a prospect you’ve been trying to meet since first quarter. Check the websites of the more selective networking organizations and see where you might roll the dice. Even if you don’t meet The One, you might meet Another One, who might be less elusive and ultimately more valuable to your bottom line.
By all means, unwind and enjoy yourself. Spend quality time with family and friends, but earmark some time to be alone as well. Dolce far niente, as the Italians say—it’s nice to do nothing, as least once in a while and we owe that to ourselves. Catch up on sleep, schedule a massage or facial if you’ve got the budget. Downtime is important as a way to reduce stress and recharge our batteries, which has a positive effect on our resilience and creativity. When January rolls around, you will be ready to take it on in style.
Thanks for reading,