Surviving the credit crunch: part 2

Here’s the concluding part of our ten point guide on surviving the credit crunch. If you missed part one, click here to catch up .

Network like crazy

Strive to build a network with everything you do. Over the years you’ll meet so many people and each one is a prospective future client or has a link to one. Keep a list and if you’ve not spoken for a while give them a call to catch up – you never know where the conversation may go.

Whenever you get the opportunity, give out your business card and always ask for theirs. You’ve no idea what happens to the cards you hand out, but those you collect are potential lifelines to future contracts. Don’t always think about what they can do for you, perhaps you can do something for them such as refer a potential client and you never know when the favour may be returned.

The internet is the biggest network out there. There are plenty of networking groups, be they business or social but they are buzzing today more then ever. The likes of LinkedIn are free and powerful tools that are perfect for meeting new people and keeping in touch.

Make it easy to do business with you.

Understand your clients needs and be even more flexible than normal. Maybe your client can see budgets or contractor headcount cuts ahead and can’t afford a full time contractor. Perhaps you could agree part time support, work from your home office so not to be on the headcount or fixed price contracts.

Get a bit on the side

The internet is more useful than ever for sourcing work. Websites have started to appear such as oDesk and Elance where you can bid for work. They are not just limited to IT work either, there is a broad range from engineering drawings, technical reports through to marketing literature and freelance PR. It is a great opportunity to perhaps try something new, as you can bid for the work at a competitive rate and develop new skills along with gaining other revenue streams.

Be ready to act

If you did find yourself out of work, how quickly could you find new opportunities, get advice or find out what’s happening in the market? Our advice is to keep alert and be ready to react. Start by keeping up with current affairs and collect bookmarks of useful website – job sites, contractor forums, industry and market news, networking sites etc.

It’s good practice to keep on top of your CV and portfolio. There’s plenty of guidance on writing CVs and during difficult times you need to make sure that yours stands out. Make sure it sells you well, it’s concise and professional. If this isn’t your strength, either perfect it through plenty of research on good CVs or consider paying for a professional to do it for you. It could pay for itself very quickly.

Think outside of the box

You may be able to avoid the competitive frenzy of jobseekers by looking for market niches that could be underserved or an untapped opportunity. It may mean a small sacrifice on rates in the short term (which is almost inevitable during a recession) but in the longer term greater opportunities could be waiting.

A quiet time is also the best time to pursue past ideas you’ve just been too busy to explore. Dust them off, think hard about new ones and make best use of your time. Could you hold the key to the next big internet idea or the solution to the world’s green energy needs?

Don’t forget that during this time people are hunting for work, and sometimes at knock down rates. Perhaps you have an idea but are short on skills to make it happen. How about putting packages on oDesk for others to complete? Maybe you have an idea for the next big mobile phone service or iPhone application?

These are difficult times but they will pass and things will get better, so stay positive! In the meantime, put what you need to in place to survive and focus on the positive opportunities the corner. Good Luck!