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Summary:

Targeting your professional development in a preemptive rather than reactive way, is not always easy. Usually freelancers and consultants just roll with the punches and learn what they have to depending on client requirements. A little forethought, though, can go a long way to making you the applicant of choice before any contracts are awarded.

If you’re a web worker, then you know the importance of constantly examining, reassessing and adding to your existing skill set. A successful online entrepreneur is almost always a extremely adaptable and eager to learn. As 2009 dawns, complete with continued economic unrest, this will be equally, if not more, true.

Targeting your professional development, however, in a preemptive rather than reactive way, is not always easy. Usually freelancers and consultants just roll with the punches and learn what they have to depending on client requirements. A little forethought, though, can go a long way to making you the applicant of choice before any contracts are awarded.

Skill 1: Working Knowledge of HTML and CSS

doglogoThis is an oldie but goodie, and it will become even more important as companies start to streamline their IT departments. It happened to traditional freelancers and consultants when they were expected to bring desktop publishing skills to the table along with their analytical abilities, and it will happen with online workers as well. For employers, it’s simple math: fine one who’ll do the job of two. Here’s a useful free resource to start with.

Skill 2: Transparent Reporting

When spending is the key deciding factor behind any and all business decisions, good reporting practices can make all the difference. Show your prospective client that you have a solid, consistent reporting process that’s simple, straightforward, and transparent, and they’ll thank you by awarding you more contracts. Things to think about are the level of detail you put into your activity logs, what increments you use to account for your time, how you list and back up your expense claims, etc.

Skill 3: Twitter Networking

twitterYou may be a networking whiz, with all the LinkedIn, Facebook, and MySpace contacts one person can handle, but that doesn’t translate into instant Twitter success. That’s because Twitter’s a different beast altogether. Case in point: the overwhelming majority of my Facebook contacts have never even heard of Twitter, yet it boasts among its members the most powerful and successful people working online today.

Succeeding here means learning to converse instead of broadcast, giving people a reason to follow you beyond your portfolio, and treading the thin line between self-promotion and spamming. Check out Darren Rowse’s Twitip for some help getting started, or refining your Tweet-Fu.

I’m sure that as the year progresses, many other valuable skill sets will emerge, but you can bet that these three, at least, will continue to be relevant well into the future.

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  1. Great ideas on Transparent Reporting for your clients.. I have struggled with that. And I totally agree with you about Twitter. My one struggle is keeping up with everyone I want to follow… Do you have any tips for that?
    @yourwebchick

  2. Reporting: Also, determine what level of reporting is appropriate for which client. Consistency of reporting between clients doesn’t always make sense.

    I have one client who likes me to check in every day (remotely) via IM/Skype, and another who wants weekly email updates. It does vary.

  3. Dalton at Interworks Thursday, January 15, 2009

    @parkercolorado: I tried to keep up with specific people in Twitter and that becomes really cumbersome, that level of ‘follow’ should stay at the blogging level. I have found Twitter to be an amazing organic newsticker and the people that you follow are small news agencies. You dont specifically follow and read everything that they say, you just watch the ‘stream’ when you can and grab what is interesting.

    Another great way to help with your Twitter organization is TweetDeck. You can assign people to groups and it help immensely to organize those ‘streams’.

    Good luck and feel free to follow me at @daltonparsons

  4. Darrell Etherington Thursday, January 15, 2009

    @parkercolorado

    I came across a great tip for following specific people, beyond your main Twitter account.

    Set up a new, separate account, which only follows those you most want to keep up with. Helps keep the background chatter down. Kudos to fellow WWD writer Aliza Sherman for this idea.

  5. WebWorkerDaily » Archive Twitter for Business: Cut the Chatter with Twalala « Friday, January 16, 2009

    [...] those twitterers you really want to pay special attention to. Then, Chris Morin posted a comment on my post about key web working skills in 2009 that brought up the same [...]

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