It’s finally happening. You’ve done all of the other preparations and have even delivered your first trainings.
Now it’s time to build partnerships and reputation. It’s the time of where you want to decide whether you want to keep freelance IT trainings a side project or your main source of work.
Either way, you need to start to treat it like a business. And a good business needs to have solid partnerships. This is what we’re going to explore now.
All of this may seem a bit overwhelming at first. In order to help you out, Coursedot is starting a new series of articles which will explore how to become a freelance IT trainer and make the most of it. The series will include the following:
- Basics – experience, interests, niche
- Training and certifications
- Setting things up
- First training tips
- Building partnerships (you’re reading this step now)
It’s time to continue with Part 5 – Building partnerships
In order to build partnerships you need to have a great approach in every detail of your work. Delivering quality trainings is only one part of the equation.
You also have to have great communication and negotiating skills, good feedback from your clients and a lot more. Building all of this takes time, effort and patience. So, don’t expect it to happen overnight. Approach is as creating your own company or any other similar and important project. Clients and partners will appreciate someone who takes time and devotion into their work and it’s not taking themselves overly serious.
You only have one chance at a first impression. And while it’s rarely a make or break type of thing, it certainly helps to get things started on the right foot.
The key here is to find the balance between being informative and also not come off as showing off. So, when applying for a teaching opportunity, make sure you pick relevant to the opportunity background information and experience.
If you list all of your certifications, even the one that aren’t relevant to the offer, you run the risk of overwhelming the client and them not paying too much attention. Or that they will think your will have way too high of a rate for them. So, keep the information relevant and you can always add your additional expertise at a later stage when the opportunity arises.
Be transparent and open about your expectations, abilities and goals. Good partnerships form when the two (or several) sides are on the same page on all fronts and know they can be open with each other.
If you don’t agree with something or want to ask for a change in the offer, do so in a polite and respectful way. Also bring solid arguments why this should be done and lay them out in a confident, detailed but not bloated way. In short, try to find the balance between being detailed enough and also not taking too much time. Or not to be too short and vague about why you propose the change.
Conference calls and emails
Much of your communication with clients and partners will be via conference calls, video chats, emails and other online tools. This has its own set of additional challenges and benefits.
On one hand, you will be able to communicate almost everywhere. But while that is tempting try not to do so. Instead make sure you hold your conference calls in a quiet place where there are no voices or noises and no one will distract you. Also, invest in a decent microphone, so that your voice will be clear and powerful. The extra quality always makes a good impression.
For video chats again choose a decent, quiet location, but also make note of the background behind you. It should be something neutral, preferably a blank wall in a neutral color. The goal here is to look presentable and not have stuff in the background that draws the attention away or is messy. You, yourself should also be presentable with smart attire. Treat it as if you were going to a meeting in real life.
For calls and chats, be fully ready for them 10-15 minutes before the scheduled time. Connect to the app no more than 5 minutes before the start.
For emails, always try to respond as quickly as possible. If the request or question will take longer to research and/or decide, send a quick reply simply giving an estimate of the time when you will have a complete response. This way you will keep the other parties in the loop and show that you are paying attention and working on it. Your answers should be short and to the point. No one likes to read long, long emails.
Unfortunately, there’s no exact science when negotiating. The key is to not be aggressive and always bring solid arguments to the table. If you are able to explain well why something should or shouldn’t be done in a certain way, chances are people will agree. Or that at the very least they will hear you out. Finding the balance between standing your ground and compromises is tricky and it’s always different as it depends on lots of conditions, circumstances and the people involved. Being polite and reasonable though always helps a lot.
During trainings and feedback
The same goes during trainings and gathering the feedback for them. If you’ve read our previous chapter, then you have seen some of the tips to deliver quality trainings.
Another responsibility of trainers if to gather the feedback from the students (or trainees). This usually happens via pre-made forms which you handout at the end and then take back. Feedbacks are vital for your overall rating and client approval. They will also be key for future applications and opportunities. And they are a great windows of what you need to improve.
Getting a good feedback is not about smiling and the end and say “can I haz good feedback plz?” It’s a whole process that starts from the moment you apply for a job opportunity. Students also have a big say in this so again – being polite, professional and reasonable goes a long way.
Keeping in touch
Finally, then there’s the keeping contacts and partnerships alive thing. Again, you need to find the right balance between being interested and needy. Keeping in touch with partners is great, but don’t just send them an email every once in a while to “see how things are going”. Make sure you have a valid reason to warrant the contact.
If you’re friends with some of the workers of one of your partners, then separate the communication. Use the official communication channels for business only and your personal emails and social media for friendly chats. It shows professional courtesy and respect.
As you’ve probably already gathered, there are some keywords that are common in this chapter. Building partnerships is all about finding balances, being professional and respectful. And patient. All of this takes time, but the results are more than worth it.