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
This 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
You 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.