You might be able to work at home in your pjs, but that doesn’t mean you don’t need to be professional and to stay updated on current trends and advances in your field. This week, we’ve asked the experts how they stay competitive in their fields.
Victoria Heckstall of Unique Words says expanding skills is very important!
- Always be willing to expand your skills. Clients love it when they can come to one person for all of their needs, or at least majority of them. Therefore, I try to do 1-2 courses each year to learn a new skill to be able to expand my offerings.
- Collaborate with other freelancers in different fields. This allows you to be able to secure more work for clients who want packages that includes services that you don’t personally provide.
- Interact in Facebook Groups. By interacting in Facebook groups you can stay up to date with what’s going on in the industry without having to spend hours researching. Additionally, by just being active in these groups you could find yourself picking up more clients.
Mindi Rosser owner of, Mindi Rosser Marketing says keeping her online presence spruced up and updated is important for making her stand out of the crowd.
- Polish your LinkedIn profile. When you work from home, your LinkedIn profile is your virtual office. Potential clients, industry peers and thought leaders visit your LinkedIn profile to learn more about your work. Treat your LinkedIn profile like a mini-website for your business/career. Flesh out your summary. Write an attention-grabbing headline. Showcase your accomplishments. Weave in your keywords. List all of your continuing education/workshops/courses. Be sure to publish to LinkedIn Pulse monthly. This proactive approach helps you stay competitive and sets you apart from other WAH professionals.
- Build your online reputation. Whether or not you have a full-time job, freelance or run your own business, you should continue to invest in your personal brand. You do this in many ways. Try guest blogging on reputable sites in your industry/niche. Sign up for HARO and respond to one relevant query daily. Attend online virtual conferences. Join live streams with industry influencers. Get featured on a few industry podcasts. The goal is to get people to know, like and trust you.
Evan Harris, co-founder and CEO of SD Equity Partners suggests networking and keeping things organized is the key.
- Attend Networking Events – This tip is important for any business owner, but it is especially important as you begin to work from home. Networking events allow you to expand your circle of contacts and make connections that otherwise would not be made from your home. Knowing how and when to utilize these contacts is also a necessary skill for a WAH employee. Just because you’re working by yourself at home does not mean that you need to be a one-man operation. Make connections and use them in a strategic manner to effectively grow your business.
- Approach it as a Regular Work Day- The only thing that should be less stressful about your work day is your lack of commute – everything else should be business as usual. Don’t do chores or things around the house in the middle of your work day; you wouldn’t do this at the office. Operate as you would if it was a normal day at the office. If you get into the habit of taking it easy or doing chores throughout the day, your productivity will begin to decline, and you will find that you are less successful in your field.
Sacha Ferrandi, Founder & Head Principal, Source Capital Funding, Inc.. also suggests that you learn new skills, so you can be your clients “go to” person.
Stay Well Rounded
To stay competitive in the WAH job market you must strive to expand your knowledge base and diversify your skill set. An easy ways to go about doing this is by utilizing online courses available on sites like Lynda.com and Coursera.com. These sites offer hundreds of courses covering an array of different topics, with many free options to choose from. The more you know and the more roles you are able to fill, the more valuable you will be to a given company.
Additionally, it’s important to get out of the house once and a while and go network. Platforms like Meetup have made it increasingly easy to meet like-minded individuals and those in complementary industries. Not only will this provide a social outlet, but is great for staying up to date on industry news and happenings.
Eunice Clarke, Director of Marketing for the International Virtual Assistants Association (IVAA) has this to share.
VA’s, just like any other work-at-home professionals, need to stay competitive to be successful. Within our organization, we have expert VA’s who have had their own experiences staying competitive within their field.
Here are some tips they would like to share:
- They keep their skills current with training that is relevant to what they do.
- They network on social media, online forums, trade associations and events that are both online and in their local communities.
- VA’s frequently work together as consultants and sub-consultants. Working together as part of a team enables VA’s to stay competitive while offering more services to their clients.
Note from Leslie:
I agree with everyone here. Like in the traditional work world, you need to stay on top of what’s going on in your industry. Some of the best ways to do that are through reading industry journals and books, attending events and seminars, networking with colleagues and potential clients, and showing off that you’re on top of things by presenting a professional image and producing the best work possible.