Each new season brings a new initiative here to the Career-Op offices. Summer
takes us away from the beautiful outdoors – at least for a little while – and
into the wild and wooly world of statistics. Perhaps it was the act of helping
my wife with the statistics for her Master’s thesis, but I got a sudden
urge to know a little bit more about my clients. There is career gold to be
mined in those hills of data, but only if they spur you to new projects and
the betterment of your career.
A host of information
Every job, whether inside a large corporation or a freelance career
generates a large amount of data. Your job is to turn that data into
that you can use to build your career or your business. Too often, though, we
ignore the data that surround us in favor of the day-to-day struggle to survive.
If you aren’t collecting, and then analyzing this data, you need to begin
One of the first thoughts that crossed my mind, when the statistics
bug bit, was the median age of most of my clients. I knew from
anecdotal information that
I had a lot of older clients, but I never realized how many. My rough statistics
at the moment put the number of older clients (age 50+) at well over 90%. Hmmm.
That brings some immediate issues to mind. Why are my clients older? Do younger
people not need as much assistance with computers? Where are my new clients
going to come from? How do I attract younger clients? How do their
I have filled pages of my journal with questions like these (and some
answers) since I began thinking about these statistics. This is the
best reason to start
gathering and analyzing statistics in the first place. They generate questions.
Not just easy questions, either. They generate questions that will take some
hard thought. They might even lead you down entirely new career paths, if you
let them. Don’t be afraid of what the statistics might tell you. Be afraid
of ignoring their inherent message.
Better service and support
Another immediate effect of my statistical burrowing was an increase
in the level of service and support that I am offering my existing
clients. At one time, I
had a basic understanding of what equipment each client used. This one had a
Mac; this one a PC; a laser printer here and an inkjet printer there. Over time,
though, these records had fallen dreadfully out of date. This was especially
true if I hadn’t worked with the client in the last several months, which
Now I am re-developing these records, classifying
clients by the type of computer, operating system, internet connection
speed, network equipment
and even whether they have a digital camera. I am now taking a photograph of
each client, sitting at their computer, of course, as a visual reminder of
them and their office setup.
This data allows me to quickly remember details when a client calls
with a question and also allows me to send directed email notices
to them when security issues
are found or software is updated. For example, most of my clients use Linksys
routers to share their broadband connection. When new firmware is released
by Linksys, I can contact each client, assist them in installing
the firmware on
their own or schedule an appointment to do it on-site.
Not only do I intend to continue updating this basic information, I
am now always looking for additional items to track. As new technology
enters my client’s
office and homes, I will have a basic record that can assist me in doing a better
job. This same information keeps me aware of older hardware and software, as
well, so I can recommend upgrades and replacements in a timely fashion.
The fin al step in the equation is a new system of to-do and follow-up
items in my calendar program. Every single client has, at least,
one pending to-do,
even if it is only a general follow-up call once a month. This new list keeps
me apprised of these pending items and allows me to suggest solutions to my clients
in an on-going fashion. This helps my clients and, from a business standpoint,
it gives me a tool to drive business and helps to counteract somewhat the “feast
and famine” cycles that effect independent consultants.
Gathering data is not difficult if you do it each and every day with
every call and every client. Turning this raw data into information
can be somewhat more
difficult, but the benefits to your clients, your work and your career are
immense. It only takes a few minutes with your data to start generating
new thoughts and
new ideas about how best to serve them both.
Comments, Questions, Reviews?