In the past month or so, I’ve been out gathering advice on how to network effectively as a freelancer to grow my list of potential clients. I’ve received some truly invaluable advice from a number of digital media entrepreneurs in Toronto – you all know who you are! I figure that there must be others out there who are in the same position as I am. So, I thought I’d share some of the pearls of wisdom that I have received to date.
1) The 3 Feet Rule and/or Talk to Anyone Who Will Give You an Hour of Their Time
The first part of this tip is the idea that if anyone is standing within 3 feet of you at a party or an event, talk to them about what you do and what you are trying to accomplish. It’s so surprising how this sparks other people’s ideas and you’ll either get great new perspectives on what to do, or people will share names and contact info of other people with whom you may want to speak. The second part of this tip is that if someone is willing to give you an hour of their time to share their advice and insight, take it! They say that the best listeners get the best advice. So, if you don’t go out and listen to what others in your industry have to say, you’re not going to get any new leads, advice or ideas to move you on to the next step in your journey.
2) Social Media is the New Cold Call – Be Easy to Find Online
I’m still pretty new to the world of social media but I have read a lot lately about the notion that social media is the new cold call. If you are properly focused on who your target customer is and are sharing ideas and information that is of interest to them, they will eventually contact you. A great resource for learning how to do this properly and to get found online is a book called Inbound Marketing. I have already started to meet some really interesting and inspiring people through this platform and can already see how it is beneficial. The other piece of advice that I have learned is to definitely take your online social networking relationships offline and meet with these people face to face – this goes back to tip #1.
3) The Ripple Effect – Be Grateful and Help Others
I had a great conversation with someone today who told me that by constantly helping others with their business and seeking out new connections, you are building up a network of people who will help you in return. Of course, you should be doing this because you want to help – don’t do it just for the sake of wanting anything else in return.
4) Don’t Count Your Chickens Before They Hatch – Sometimes Your Chicken Will Cross the Road
I learned this rule the hard way when I met with one of my first potential clients. I thought I had a potential contract in the bag and so I slowed down on my networking for a while and focused on what I was going to do for that client. Two weeks later, when I still hadn’t heard back from the client, I followed up and discovered that he had left the company. I had counted on that chicken and was kinda blind-sided when I found out that he had crossed the road – lesson learned! This reminded me that a freelancer should always be networking – never slow down unless you have a contract in hand.
5) Learn From Others’ Mistakes
This again goes back to point #1. When you’re out talking to others who might be able to share tips and advice on how they have been successful in your field, definitely ask them about what mistakes they’ve made along the way. Again, one of the people who I spoke with recently told me that entrepreneurs should be comfortable with failure. However, he told me that there is no reason to be making the same mistakes that other people have already made – if you can avoid it. Find out how other people have failed and learn from them so that you don’t make the same mistakes.
If you come across this blog and have other pearls of wisdom that you’d like to share – definitely post a comment and let’s help each other out ;)