By Kevin M
In 10 Ways To Survive a Down Economy (published on Christianpf.com June 1) we listed ten strategies to help you deal with the bad economy. Now we’ll begin taking a look at each in greater detail. Strategy #1:
1. Assume perpetual economic instability. You can’t go wrong with this. If that assumption turns out to be wrong I’m sure you’ll have no trouble adjusting! Otherwise, actively network your business or your job skills continuously. You can never know when the next job eliminated might be yours. Be ready.
Network Your Career
Even if your job isn’t in jeopardy, resist complacency. This will serve two purposes; first it will drive you to perform at a higher level, and second it will keep you on an active hunt for your next gig.
As an employee, it’s more important than ever to get- or stay-connected. It’s OK to keep connections with coworkers, former coworkers and former employers, but you will need to move beyond the familiar. Part of the problem with familiar connections is that they often have the same circle of contacts you do, which is of little benefit.
In a strong economy, a few deep connections may be all you need to remain employed especially if your field of expertise is in shortage. However in a weak economy where jobs are being eliminated, it’s probably a better idea to expand the number of connections you have. Think wide, rather than deep.
It is advisable to join some network groups, including some on the internet. But don’t stop there. Look for some network groups in your area, preferably those who meet periodically. There’s no substitute for face to face contact. As people within the networking group are hired or promoted, there’s a chance you may be brought along.
As mentioned above, write articles for publications and websites potential employers might frequent. It will establish you as an expert and could lead to calls from prospective employers inquiring as to your availability. This is a way of getting in front of employers without sending a resume. If a company does call in regard to potential employment, set up a lunch meeting, even if you aren’t immediately interested. This will create a valuable connection for a later date should it become necessary.
Avoid doing anything reckless, like posting your resume on job boards or registering with every recruiting agency that’s out there (unless of course you’re unemployed). Eventually that will get back to your employer, which may hasten the arrival of a pink slip. Any search you conduct should be targeted and limited. It may be best to restrict the search to use two or three established recruiters. Good recruiters often market “blind resumes” that list your qualifications but omit your name and recent employers. This is a viable way for you to inquire about positions anonymously, or at least until a potential employer expresses concrete interest in your qualifications. (We network with a limited number of recruiters in specialized fields who are prime agencies in this regard. Click here to participate by sending your resume.
Network Your Business
A CPA I worked with many years ago was fond of saying “I’m a salesman first, and a CPA second–anyone who is in business always needs to be a salesman first”. The economy was bad at the time, but he was taking on new clients while other accountants were losing them by the boatload.
One advantage of a bad economy is that as competitors close their doors, their customers are up for grabs. If you can hold long enough you’ll win by default, just by staying in business. But you will need to reach the people who are buying what you are selling in order to do that.
Get more aggressive with marketing, but do it in ways that won’t increase your advertising budget.
Expand your sales force. Unless you’re in a business where doing so is prohibited by law, offer a commission or bonus arrangement to clients, vendors, your employees and other contacts as compensation for sending you referrals. You can have hundreds of people on your list. Just as important, develop a strategy for reminding them of your referral arrangement. A weekly or monthly batch email is an excellent way to do this that is both easy and free. Bonus: a personal referral is always a warmer prospect than an ad call.
If you don’t have a website, get one, and if you do, there are various ways to improve the reach of your site that don’t cost any money. If you can, learn a bit about web promotion. It’s actually less complicated than you might think, and whatever you can do yourself will be less that you need to pay someone else.
A couple of good books on the subject include: Getting Noticed on Google (Ben Norman), and Marketing in the New Media (Holly Berkley). Both are fast reads and easy for a novice to understand. Find out how your successful competitors are running their sites and then pattern (but don’t copy) what they’re doing. These books will show you how.
If you do need outside help, a lot people are out of work, including web designers, making it easier than ever to get expert help on the cheap. If you can’t afford to pay the fee, try to work out a barter exchange.
Write informative articles in your area of expertise and have them published in print media and on websites which potential clients are likely to frequent. Prospects are far more likely to read and respond to beneficial content than to ads, and writing articles will position you as an expert and cost you nothing but your own time.
The purpose of marketing is to get your message to as many prospects as possible, for the least money possible. Try placing ads in homeowners association newsletters–people do read those. Consider restaurant placemats; you have a captive audience in customers awaiting their food. Give talks, with question/answer sessions, at various organizations, including the local chamber of commerce, business and network groups, senior citizens clubs or anywhere likely prospects might be. Again, this will cost you nothing except your time, but remember–you’re in business and therefore you’re a salesman first!