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Being an Online Consultant: What Every Beginner Needs to Know

Being an Online Consultant: What Every Beginner Needs to Know

When you move into the working world, life throws many paths at you―some very unprecedented paths which make you doubt yourself. You walk through the doors of rejection with pride and determination while there are moments you’re withering from the inside. But, there are also the significant moments where you find your inspiration to start a career from a different angle.

Recently, the market is booming with online consultancies to help make the world a flatter and reachable platform. It’s negating the concept of distance and making it possible for the world to be run with just a click of a button from any corners of the world.

However, when starting out, we all need that holy book of guidance ‒ not only it boosts our confidence, but also it gives us a great start. What do you need? To answer that question, we have put together a few tips on what you need to have a great start in being an online consultant.

1. Make Sure That You’re Not Charging Too Little

When starting a business, you often times assume that the less you charge, the more you attract. You assume that people are fearful of high prices and you wouldn’t attract more clients if you’re charging a high price. It could be guilt; it could be inexperience or it just could be the fact that you don’t know what to charge.

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Charge more than you think. ― always remember this as your quote. In an online consultancy business always remember to not sell yourself short. Your clients will want their return on investment in everything they invest in – they’re not only investing their money, but they’re also investing their time so take that into consideration. If you can prove ROI, then you’ve got the permission to charge a steady percentage of your client’s profit.

Remember, there’s no potion that will hand you the key to set your price point. You will have to determine it yourself and consider all your pro’s and con’s. A perfect example is, when you’re looking for a pair of shoes, you would find Charles & Keith much more valuable compared to the same pair you’d find in a flea market or a random super-mart. Even if it’s the same pair, you would find the over-priced pair much more exquisite than the cheaper one.

Never sell yourself short.

2. Always Know Your Tools

Starting up in a new field can be taxing, you would need to comprehend everything you’ve practiced in your life in an online world; converting your client base from an offline to an online path, understanding your finances, and finding the perfect platform to communicate with your clients. Skype maybe be the known reliable tool, but does it fit your purpose? How will you manage to track down your finances and how will you ensure that you aren’t wasting your time with clients who won’t bother paying?

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Always research the market and seek the best tools you would like to use for your business. For example, MINT in itself is a perfect tool to keep track of your finances, tally your taxes, and make sure your payments are done in time. This will ease the burden of your strenuous day and leave the bookkeeping to be done by your app.

The internet is a place filled with wonders, you can find freelancers, free sites to build your website, and various communication platforms that would guarantee your client satisfaction and build your business that eventually will sustain itself without any major marketing plans.

3. Always Remember: You’re Not Your Own Boss

The sentence which is constantly uttered when anyone embarks in the world of online consulting is “I finally get to be my own boss”. This myth has created a lot of disappointment and has made many entrepreneurs who started out in this business to quit before they’ve even embarked on this journey.

So, the most important concept to understand is that YOU’RE NOT YOUR OWN BOSS.

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In the world of business, you’re never your own boss, as your clients are paying for your services and your clients are ensuring the lifeline of your business. It means that they are your bosses; they determine your billable hours and look for the necessary results before endorsing any form of payments. Therefore you have to constantly ensure to please not just one boss, but multiple bosses. This attitude will keep you humble and allow your venture to progress at a steady pace.

But what are you entitled to?

You have your own identity, you are responsible for deciding upon your schedule and what you offer. Despite them paying for your services, you have the privileges to say “NO”. This gives you the freedom to choose and the discipline you need to work hard and maximize your potential.

Isn’t it the best of both worlds?

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4. Know The One Reason Why You’re Hired

You are hired for one reason and one reason only; “knowledge”.

As a consultant, your niche is knowledge, your clients hire you to help them with something they don’t know. They hire your services pertaining the fact that you know more than they do, so you got to hold your end of the bargain. You have to always make sure that honesty is your key principle.

When they say “Honesty is the Best Policy “, they don’t mean it lightly.

You have to be able to call things as you see them and offer advice from a professional standpoint, which can either be derived from your own personal interest or from your education background. Either way, the knowledge you pass on should be on a professional basis and at the end of the day, if they disagree or don’t enjoy your opinion, it isn’t your problem ‒ it’s just their opinion.

Your deliverable knowledge is your business model, hence, make sure it isn’t a half-baked mumbo jumbo. If you lose the reliability of your information, you lose your business.

Now you have the major keys to launch a successful online consulting business. All you need now is to roll up your sleeves and be willing to get down and dirty in this industry. Work hard and be the best consultant you can be; your business will take on a life on its own.

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Last Updated on January 15, 2021

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

Posture

First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

  • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
  • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
  • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
  • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

Facial Expressions

Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

  • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
  • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
  • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

2. Relax Your Face

New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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3. Improve Your Eye Contact

Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

3. Smile More

There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

4. Hand Gestures

Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

5. Enhance Your Handshake

In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

“Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

Final Takeaways

Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

Reference

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