Once you have secured your next contract, it helps to bear in mind some rules of the road to ensure you perform effectively, impress your client and position yourself for future contracts with glowing references and reviews. In Part One of this series, the veterans at iContract focus on five key steps to effective performance in your contract: Relationship building, appropriate fee charging, communicating your achievements, networking effectively and above all enjoying your contract!
1. Relationship Building
Spend time on the human and social side of those you are reporting to. People you work with will trust and respect you if you take a genuine interest in them. Without being ‘over-familiar’, find appropriate moments to ask people about their lives outside the office, e.g. what they did at weekends and where they’ve been, or plan to go, on holidays. Schedule lunches with key people at your client and remember important events like birthdays or other celebrations. Inject humour into your daily routine. Bring some tasty treats to the office after your travels. You need to show you care about the people around you, making their working lives smoother and that in the process you make your boss shine/keep issues off his or her desk. This will effectively endear you to others and will help you get your job done more smoothly.
2. Charge Appropriately
If you consider that you are charging a fair day rate at the outset of your contract, resist the temptation to increase this before working for a substantial period (at least a year) and impressing upon those around you that you are good value for money. Consider the economic environment you are in, both of the company and of the particular team you are supporting. Cost is often at the centre of decision-making about which contractors to keep on and which to let go. Similarly however, don’t charge too little. The amount you charge sends out a clear message about how much you think you’re worth.
3. Convey your achievements
Outside any formal feedback loops, find ways to informally communicate your achievements to key people and decision-makers at your client on a regular basis, via tactical emailing or perhaps more directly over lunch or a coffee. Don’t take for granted that those in your reporting line will know what you have achieved. Learn to self-promote and if you have done something particularly helpful, make sure all the right people know about it. This will reinforce their perception of your value, especially when you are approaching contract renewal time.
4. Network Effectively
It’s a good idea to make friends with other contractors you work with because a personal recommendation from a respected contractor can be quite influential with potential clients. Staying in touch with others is how a vast majority of long term contractors secure positions. Use the networking facilities on the iContract platform to stay in touch with contractors you have met even when you part company. It is important not to alienate any permanent employees you end up working alongside. They are likely to eventually turn into managers or go contracting themselves.
5. Stay Positive – Enjoy Your Contract!
This may sound obvious but sometimes a conscious decision to see your contract and any challenges it presents in a positive light will make you more successful overall; you will likely feel more effective at both relationship building and problem solving. On the other hand if no matter what you do you feel that going to work at your client each day is a chore hen that role is probably not for you! Be proactive at securing a role that you are likely to enjoy.