Maintain your contacts when you go freelance

8 Aug 2016 (provided by Local Transport Today), Category: Transportation Planning

Maintain your contacts when you go freelance

One potential pitfall for a freelance travel planner is losing touch with career training and development, according to Matt Traynor, who works as an advisor on transport planning in Saudi Arabia.

“Whilst working freelance, it is important to continue to build and maintain your own network of contacts, both in the region where you work, and in your own particular sector and field of experience,” Traynor explains. “It is also vital to maintain contacts from your home country, to keep abreast of changes within the sector, and other opportunities that may be in the pipeline.” 

In working abroad, Traynor is also aware of how this experience heightens the need to sustain contacts. “I work in a culture where new graduates are often appointed straight to managerial roles with no experience, and so within an environment of being expected to ‘know everything,’ the role of an advisor sometimes feels akin to that of a diplomat. 

“This is another reason why maintaining a personal network of industry professionals for me is vital. A sounding board is helpful, and often this needs to be within the context of outlining future opportunities that may arise.”

Peter Mattinson, a director of recruitment consultants the Mattinson Partnership, believes the success of a freelance contractor may actually restrict their long-term development. 

He describes how freelancing can have a natural lifespan. “As a freelancer, you have got to commit to continuing your own professional development. You need to keep an eye on where you want your career to be going. You can easily get five or six years into a contract, but are not responsible for any members of staff or appraisal duties. This is the kind of wider experience that makes you attractive when going back into a consultancy.

“Another problem is that you live to your means as a freelancer. This means that you can get people who have too high expectations of what they are worth, and find it difficult to adjust to less income when attempting to get back into an established position. Long-term freelancing can therefore mean going down a bit of a cul-de-sac. You can earn good money, but your career can flat line if you stay in it too long.”

Matt Traynor: It is vital to keep abreast of changes within the sector, and other opportunities that may be in the pipeline

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