Whether you are new to Interim Management or are a highly experienced Interim Manager, you may have noticed that there’s now more competition for roles than ever before.
In a lot of ways this is a good thing, as historically the value of interim managers was misunderstood by a lot of businesses but now it seems most have recognised the advantages of using interim managers who can plug an urgent gap or help lead and drive change programs whilst bringing a wealth of knowledge and ‘know-how’ with them.
This does however create more of a challenge for individual interim managers as they are often competing for roles with a larger pool of people – particularly in the technology and procurement spaces. This can then lead to long periods on the bench between jobs, which can put a significant amount of pressure on an interim manager, both in a professional and personal sense.
I recently spoke at the Interim focus group at the TEN group on how time-poor Interim Mangers can build themselves a sustainable pipeline of work and negate the feast and famine cycle that plagues so many contractors throughout their career by using content as a way of demonstrating your expertise and knowledge.
I’m sure you will have seen the blog posts and LinkedIn pulse posts from colleagues that have become increasingly popular over the past few years. Platforms like LinkedIn have made it easier than ever to publish your thoughts on any topic you fancy, and this in turn increases the amount of exposure you get with your 1st and 2nd level connections.
As an Interim, now more than ever I would advocate that you are selling your services directly to clients as well as working with a few strong providers such as ourselves. Your approach to getting new opportunities should be multi-channel, rather than just relying on recruiters to send you a role when it comes across their desk.
So how do you achieve this?
Below is a simple process for how to get started using content and social selling in a cost and time efficient way.
Step 1 – Define your Target Audience
To market your interim services successfully to clients you want to start by defining who you are going to target. As well as recording a target list in a spreadsheet or basic database you need to really understand the behaviours of these individuals, their pain points and what you have to offer which will be of value for them. Marketers call this creating a buyer persona, which is like a holistic view of an audience, and it is key to ensuring that your marketing cuts through the noise and is highly relevant.
Make sure that your targets are the people who will actually buy your services. Often I see even experienced executives who are heavily networked with people within the same function as them, but not with the people who hire people like them… this makes no sense! Whilst you might have a lot in contact with other Procurement Directors, it’s the Finance Directors, Managing Directors, HR Directors, COOs and CEOs that you need to be raising your profile with.
Step 2 – ConnectWherever possible you should connect to your target audience using a mutual connection. If you have a few connections in common you can send them a simple message saying something like:
I noticed that we have a number of shared connections in Dave Allen and Lindsay Grey but our paths haven’t crossed yet! Would be great to connect.
Where this is not possible then Link In with them and send them something of value that isn’t a direct sell (like a piece of content you wrote, a video clip from a presentation you gave or even something you read that would be of interest to them). Once you are engaged and in dialogue then you can start to form a mutually beneficial relationship that may develop into a sales opportunity but be careful not to try and monetise these relationships too early – in the new sales world generosity of time and value add is key.
Step 3 – Produce Content
Once connected to your target audience you need to start creating great content that talks about your audiences pain points and what they can do to address it. Consistency of output is key here as is relevancy of what you are producing. At Executives Online we talk regularly about having your ‘blog filters open’ which is to say that whenever you are reading, talking or watching you should be asking yourself “Is there a blog idea to be had here?”
As well as writing your own blogs it is smart to curate others work and share thought leaders content with your network. Send your content directly to your target audience and attempt to share a relevant social post every day. You can either do this as you go or invest a small amount of money in a tool like HootSuite or Buffer which allows you to bulk schedule posts to go out through the week. Just remember to write about what’s interesting to your audience, not just what’s interesting to you.
Step 4 – Take the Relationship Offline
Once you have been able to add value and developed the relationship then you are ready to take your relationship offline. Look out for target clients linking or sharing your content and approach them to suggest that you meet face to face. Once in front of them you can solidify the relationship and look to identify pain you can solve with your services.
The key to this is to start early and be consistent. Content marketing and social selling are more of a slow burn so if you wait until you are on the market to start publishing and connecting it will likely be too late.
Instead aim to publish a blog a month and actively network and build LinkedIn connections one evening a week. Keep an eye out for connections that comment, like or share your posts and engage with them as well as the wider community. In this era reciprocity is the key to cultivating meaningful online relationships.