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RE: Summer Doldrums

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    When people ask if I am busy, my standard answer is YES!  I tell them I am either busy completing projects or looking for new ones.  It is a never ending battle.  I would not worry too much about your pride.  You have to remember that most new clients (and even some of the old ones) don't know your good at what you do until you tell them.
Brian K. Smith, P.E.
-----Original Message-----
From: Bill Polhemus [mailto:bill(--nospam--at)]
Sent: Tuesday, July 06, 2004 6:03 PM
To: seaint(--nospam--at)
Subject: Summer Doldrums

Well, it?s only the beginning of July but we seem to have reached the ?Summer Doldrums? around here already, at least as far as engineering work is concerned. I haven?t been this, er, unoccupied for nearly two years now, and it is beginning to be of concern to me.


That?s the problem with being self-employed?there are sometimes going to be periods where you?re self-Unemployed.


At least you can always claim that you?re never out of a job, since you aren?t inclined to fire yourself. Well, at least you?re not inclined to do so without really good cause.


At times like this I feel truly out of my element. I?m not much of a salesman, so I flounder when it?s time for ?cold-calling.? Several years ago, when I first started out on my own, I did some cold-calling, a few of which actually got me some contacts and eventually some work. Since that time, it has been mostly ?word-of-mouth,? and I?ve found myself too busy to.


Suddenly the bottom drops out, and then what do you do? Back to the phones, I guess, and back to the same old magic tricks that I always loathed to begin with. Perhaps pride has something to do with it: I?ve always hated going ?hat-in-hand? to anyone (this, even though I realize that we?re simply discussing ?quid pro quo?: You need work done, and I have the skills to do it.


Still, I hate rejection, and that ?phobia? is probably the biggest impediment to successful marketing.


The Doldrum is also bringing something out of the closet that I?ve been trying hard to ignore: I?m not really doing ANY market penetration in those areas I?d like to, such as commercial building design, etc. That?s because it?s ?easier? to simply go with what you have in front of you. Sometimes those projects are VERY interesting; I?ve been privileged to be involved in some intricate and involved repair jobs, for example.


But still, some of the work I?d love to get into, including low-rise commercial buildings, just hasn?t materialized as a result of my passive efforts. I?m still not sure how to overcome this. I know that when you are looking for a ?real job? with an employer, they tell you that simply sending out resumes and making cold calls doesn?t do it; you have to network. So for awhile I WAS networking, and that did seem to help. Attending meetings, getting my hands dirty with committee work, etc., was somewhat effective?until I got busy.

Then, I had to make a decision: Do the work that pays, and spend the rest of the time on family and personal thus excluding my participation in professional organizations, or cut some of the former to continue with the latter. I chose to cut way back on the profession organizations, and now I could really use updated contacts.


But if I return to that, I will (1) feel like a mercenary, and (2) probably face the same dilemma if and when work picks up.


Such is the quandary in this day and time where we don?t seem to have time to ?do it all.?


Ah, well, I just thought I?d use this forum to ?vent.? It may be that some others here have faced some of the same music (Dennis Wish has, I know). Maybe a discussion would benefit those of us who have gone through this, or who are thinking of hanging out the shingle and wonder about the pitfalls.


Hope everyone else is enduring the summer heat more gracefully.


Regards to all y?all.