This article marks the start of a new series in Professionally Speaking. For the past three years I’ve published a monthly Pro-Track Profile interview featuring members of the Pro-Track class of the Northern California Chapter of the National Speakers Association. I’ve decided to start a similar series featuring freelance creatives who make their living as communications consultants, writers, editors, and more. This Freelance Focus series kicks off with an interview with the founder of the Agency which has provided me with the majority of my own freelance work for the past three years.
René Shimada Siegel is a reluctant entrepreneur who founded High Tech Connect in 1997 at the persistent request of her Silicon Valley colleagues. They were frustrated by the challenge of finding qualified marketing consultants with no time to train them on a specific product or technology. So René leveraged her PR and marcom management experience—as well as a jam-packed Rolodex, caffeine-fueled lifestyle and talented friends—to create a specialized marketing services agency called High Tech Connect.
Over the past 15 years, more than 500 clients have called on the High Tech Connect team for critical projects or to fill in for maternity and medical leaves. With a carefully selected nationwide network of more than 1000 freelance consultant specialists, they provide on-demand, project-based expertise in areas such as Copywriting and Editing, Corporate Communications, Event & Trade Show Management, Executive Speechwriting, Public Relations and Social Media Marketing.
René has grown High Tech Connect to a leading provider of expert marketing and communications, and one of the largest women-owned businesses in the San Francisco Bay Area. She’s extremely proud of the team she’s built: like-minded professionals who are equally passionate about helping clients and inspiring consultants.
René is a regular contributor to Inc.com, dispensing advice and perspective for small business owners and entrepreneurs. Her innovative business model and inspiration for home-based consultants has also been documented in several books and publications like Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, Newsweek Japan and Daniel Pink’s Free Agent Nation.
High Tech Connect employ carefully selected experts to work on complex projects for more than 500 clients, including Cisco Systems, IBM, NetApp, Intel, Kaiser Permanente, Brocade, Intuit, CA Technologies, McAfee, Xilinx, VeriSign, Seagate, Silicon Valley Leadership Group and more.
The freelance consultants placed through High Tech Connect average 10-20 years of professional marketing or communications experience. Consultants are paid either on a 1099 or W-2 basis, depending on the client company’s requirements.
I’ve worked as a consultant through High Tech Connect for the past three years. I visited René in her Pleasanton, California office and asked her share her insights into the world of freelance consulting, what companies are looking for today, and what issues do employees who are considering switching to freelance work need to consider. To hear what she told me, click on the podcast icon below.