By Beatrice Nakibuuka
Like it is in the job market, many clients prefer older consultants because they feel their experiences are equally older.
This poses a great challenge to many young and talented professionals, especially those embarking on freelance or venturing into consultancy services.
According to Victoria Nyanzi, a marketing and public relations consultant, “There is ageism everywhere, and it can be a real hurdle. But you can overcome it with the right strategies and mindset.”
Here is how you can handle the challenge:
Embrace unique values
As a young consultant or freelancer, you bring a fresh perspective and innovative thinking to the table, which can be a tremendous asset in solving contemporary challenges.
So embrace these unique qualities and highlight how they benefit your clients while pitching your services.
She says: “Suppose you are a young marketing consultant. Emphasise how your deep understanding of the latest social media trends and digital marketing strategies can help your client reach a younger demographic more effectively than a more seasoned consultant.”
She adds that all this comes after you do extensive research to understand the exact problem your prospect has and how you can leverage your young age, skills, and expertise to solve it.
Establishing trust and credibility is crucial, regardless of your age.
Showcase your expertise through case studies, testimonials, and a professional online presence.
An online presence is not about having a LinkedIn or Twitter profile and operating in ghost mode; it’s about being active and engaging.
Your online presence should be able to answer the “what’s”, “whys” and how about what you do/can do. And it’s in your content that you can answer these questions.
“If you’re a cybersecurity consultant, you can share success stories of how you’ve protected clients’ data from cyber threats. For a public relations consultant, this is where your successful backlinks, influencer campaigns and all testimonials come in handy,” Nyanzi says.
Additionally, consider pursuing certifications, licences, or qualifications related to your field and highlight them on your profile.
Leverage digital media
We have heard this numerous times, and we cannot deny the fact that the world is digital.
So, it is about how you take advantage of all these free tools and optimise your online presence and expand your reach.
Showcase your work on professional networking sites, create a portfolio website, and engage with your audience through social media.
“You might choose to use Google, your LinkedIn profile, website, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, among others. All these platforms, if properly utilised, can help you optimise your digital footprint in the search engine, making it easier for people to find you as a freelancer or consultant,” she says.
Marketing your skills without feeling like you’re “blowing your own trumpet” can be a delicate balance. Focus on educating potential clients about the value you provide rather than bragging.
Nyanzi insists that this is where many people go wrong. “You’re a service provider, so you offer a solution to a problem”.
Ever thought about the fact that most of your target customers do not know that they actually have that problem?
Always create content that demonstrates your knowledge and showcases your problem-solving abilities.
The only way you can market your services without blowing your own trumpet is if you focus on the problems that you solve for your clients.
Start small and build
While aiming for the moon is admirable, starting small can be a strategic move to beat professional ageism, especially for young consultants.
One may have to begin by collaborating with smaller businesses, startups, or organisations that are open to growing with them.
Large corporations often have stringent requirements, including licences, extensive work samples, reviews, testimonials, and reference letters.
It can be challenging for a young consultant to meet these demands right from the start.
By working with SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises), startups, and organisations in growth stages, you can gain valuable experience, build a portfolio, and establish a track record.
Nyanzi says: “As you accumulate successful projects and satisfied clients, you’ll be better equipped to approach larger clients and showcase your proven capabilities.
“Starting small is not a limitation but a strategic step that allows you to grow steadily and build the foundation for a successful freelance or consulting career.
“It’s about setting achievable milestones and using them as stepping stones to reach your larger goals in the long run.”
These strategies are not mutually exclusive, and you can combine them to create a holistic approach to overcoming ageism and marketing your services effectively without coming off as bragging.
Remember, Rome was not built in one day. Everything takes consistency and dedication.