Photography by Christopher Barre
Contracting continues to be a mutually beneficial for entrepreneurs (who want flexibility and freedom) and also big companies (who can enjoy the benefit of great talent without long-term commitment). With pressure to maintain or decrease headcount annually, many large corporations turn to contractors to get important projects completed every year, and 2013 is no exception.
So, as an entrepreneur, how can you be the best possible contractor?
Don’t point out or rub your expertise, freedom and flexibility in the faces of your full-time brethren. Showcase your experience and attitude in ways that makes their lives easier. Chime in with a great thought they shared with just you and frame it up as a partnership. “Jim and I were just discussing how to streamline those reports, and we both think...”
Never intentionally flash the “contracted expert” badge. If you have occasion to make your expertise known, do so only when absolutely necessary and do it with class. Everyone knows you’re a hired gun, so being humble about makes you that much more attractive and top-of-mind when new contracted opportunities arise. Plus, people love to pass great contractors around a company.
In many ways, you have the opportunity to do and say things, your full-time counterparts only dream of -- do it and bring them along for the ride. Take an early call when you know they are on the commute and cannot. Offer your expertise to free them up for something they enjoy more. Oh, wait -- they do enjoy what the company hired you to do exclusively? Acknowledge that in a private exchange and collaborate ways to help your full-time counterpart display their expertise and show your flexibility to do other tasks to help out the team.
As the contracted expert, you will be complimented and thanked for your work more than full-time team members. Always remember to spread the compliments around, where applicable. Chances are, even the most stiff and annoying full-time worker shares information with you to enable you to be successful on the project. They may have even done it with an attitude and a grudge. None of that is actually directed at you personally; they are angry with the company because they most likely had to beg to get the help or threaten to leave before you were brought in. Be gracious to those people. Thank your full-time team members for explaining that policy two extra times. Let them know how much you appreciate them. Send formal feedback to their supervisors letting them know how much they helped you.
That grace can work wonders on those attitudes and again, cement you as a trusted and go-to resource for future contract projects.
Denise W. Barreto is the managing partner at Relationships Matter Now, LLC, a strategic business and marketing firm outside Chicago that connects relationships to maximize life and business. relationshipsmatternow.com