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The write life

Working on-site can prove invaluable to the client-agency relationship. In our thought leadership special, Abby Fisher, 44 associate and winner of this year’s Interim of the Year category at the IoIC Central & North Awards, explains her six-step plan for successful contractor work.

What makes a good contractor? Most would probably agree that delivering what your client wants on time and on budget is basically what it is all about. In my opinion though, the best freelancers also care about how they achieve results as much as they do about delivering the outcome.

Abby, collecting the Freelancer/Interim of the Year award at the IoIC Central & North Awards earlier this year.
Abby, collecting the Freelancer/Interim of the Year award at the IoIC Central & North Awards earlier this year.

The modern workplace is a demanding one where employees are often expected to fulfil several roles. The days of being good at one thing are long gone, and everyone wants a multi-skilled workforce which is more flexible and cost effective.

Modern workplace

Since I started working as a journalist in the busy newsroom of my local paper more than 13 years ago, the roles I have taken all demanded a lot from me, constantly challenging me to turn my hand to different projects, embrace new skills and try new things. I have made mistakes along the way, but have always tried to learn from them, and my eclectic employment history has prepared me well for the freelance life.

A better work-life balance and working for different clients on fresh and exciting projects are just two reasons that people are attracted to freelancing. Anyone thinking about taking the plunge should also consider the challenges – irregular work hours, fluctuating demand, the importance of self-motivation and keeping up with different industries and clients.

The culture of the organisation

In one of my current roles for 44, I’ve been embedded directly in the client’s business. It was a unique opportunity to work in-house with a great team, and being on the ground meant more face-to-face time with my client and other key stakeholders. It was also a chance to get under the skin of the culture and needs of the organisation, and pick up valuable insights at the water cooler – literally the fountain of all knowledge!

But being on point all the time does have its challenges. For example, there’s a high level of scrutiny, the pressure of being your agency’s constant representative on site and a greater risk of being pulled into the politics of the business you are working for.

So here are my top tips for working on-site with a client. With the right attitude and approach, it will be the best role you will ever have.

1. Get to know your client

Spend time learning about the industry, making sure you understand the structure of the business as well as its culture, aims and objectives. Be interested in how things work and understand exactly what your client wants to achieve.

2. Build relationships

A good relationship with clients and stakeholders is key to delivering good results. Always take the time to get to know people and make contacts, even if the job is a short one. Get up to speed quickly on who the key people are – find out about their role, what they want to achieve and how they like things done.

3. Be organised

Be efficient and organised in everything you do, particularly if you have multiple projects on the go. How you do it depends on how you work – write lists, compile spreadsheets or scribble on a whiteboard – whatever works for you.

4. Adopt a ‘can do’ attitude

Be adaptable, quick-thinking and creative to find solutions. Don’t be afraid to point out challenges, but be ready with ideas for how to overcome them.

5. Have confidence

Think about the skills you have, be honest about your abilities and have confidence in your experience. If you are being asked for your opinion as a professional then give it – don’t be constrained by the status quo, but always be honest and think about the consequences of your suggestions. Don’t be afraid to take on new challenges and turn to your own contact network for support and advice when you need it.

6. Give it everything you’ve got

No matter what the job, take pride in what you are doing and be enthusiastic and willing to go that extra mile to do the best job you can.

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