Tag Archives: networking

Freelancers are Stronger Together

Over the past few months, I’ve made it my mission to meet with other freelancers in my industry to learn how they manage their own Circle of friends imagebusinesses and get their feedback on what I’m doing right or wrong. The more I meet with other freelancers, the more I realize that no one can run a business completely alone. That’s why I truly believe that freelancers are stronger if they work together.

So, if you’re just getting started in the freelance game, here are some recommendations that I have collected and learned from my first year of running my own small business:

1. Grow your network and form a support group.

It’s important to meet regularly with other freelancers or small business owners to share ideas and get advice on how you can improve your business. There are now plenty of events and conferences in Toronto that facilitate meeting other like-minded professionals. A few examples are SproutUpTo, FreelanceCampTO, Enterprise Toronto and more.

2. Follow and engage with other freelancers through social media.

Building online relationships is just as helpful as building in-person relationships. It’s important to develop a good rapport with a few other freelancers on platforms like Twitter, Quora and LinkedIn so that you can pose questions to your colleagues when you’re in a jam and/or can’t find the answer yourself. To find other freelance professionals, you can use tools like Search.Twitter.com (search for keywords and hashtags related to your profession), or search for other freelance professionals on LinkedIn. But always remember that your relationship will grow even further if you eventually meet in person.

3. Read and comment on blogs and articles from other freelancers.

Many freelancers (including myself) write about their experiences to share with others. So, make sure you visit and comment on their blogs and articles to build a relationship with them (and even share your own advice). Here’s a great resource that was recently Tweeted by one of my social media friends @thecoffice: The Ultimate Guide to Becoming a Successful Freelance Marketer http://freelanceswitch.com/freelance-marketing/beginner-freelance-marker/. Even though the guide is geared to marketers, there’s some useful information in there for any freelance professional.

Have a tip on another way that freelancers can work together to help each other grow their business? Please share in the comments section below.

Image source: iStockPhoto.com

What entrepreneurs can learn from dating

It has often been said that looking for a job is just like dating. You know in your gut when you think you’ve found “the one.” Well, I believe that the same can be said for prospecting for new clients and customers as an entrepreneur.

When you’re out meeting new people at conferences or social networking online, you’re looking for people with whom you have enough chemistry to have that first initial meeting. From a simple phone call or e-mail exchange, your goal is to then go for coffee or lunch to get to know and understand each other. Even if you are selling to customers instead of clients, the desired outcome is the same. Ultimately, we are trying to build long term relationships (or partnerships) with our customers, rather than “acquire” them.

Perhaps, just like in love, that’s the difference between people who are looking for commitment versus those that are looking for a one night stand. Below are some links to great blogs from Canadian startups and entrepreneurs about fostering relationships and impressing customers and clients:

Some of the key lessons from these stories are to communicate openly, go out of your way to make your customers happy, and be yourself. This advice resonates with any great relationship. Do these sound possible for your business? If you have other stories worth sharing on this blog, please pass them along.

Image source: iStockPhoto.com

Discovering New Opportunities Through Twitter

Image of discoveryI had coffee this week with an old colleague who I had lost touch with over the past few years.  It was great to catch up with her and we got on the topic of keeping your eyes open for opportunities and the little signs that point you on a new path.  It might sound a little cheesy but I have to say that a lot of people miss the little clues that might help guide them to the next step in their life or career – if they’d only lift their head up from their computers every now and then to see them.

I would like to share two personal examples with you on how Twitter can help you to keep your eyes open to new opportunities.  These examples could not have been possible had I not been looking intently AT my computer screen.  So, I guess this story is a bit of a paradox – but the lesson is still about taking those blinders off!

Here are two personal examples:

(1) Discovering new opportunities to follow interests
A few weeks ago, I was chatting with someone about the fact that I really enjoy blogging.  I told them that I’d love to one day write blogs about digital media for someone other than myself (and the readers like you who happen to come across it) on my own blog. Literally that same night, I had just come home from an event and I thought I’d go online to check out what was happening in the world since I had last been online – at least 5 hours before 😉  To my very happy surprise, I saw a tweet from TechVibes.com saying that they were looking for new Toronto Tech bloggers and I just HAD to apply that very moment because I knew this was something I wanted to try.

Had I not started following TechVibes on Twitter and keeping my eyes open for new opportunities, I would have never discovered a new way to expand my hobby.  They said yes to my application, and I am now able to share interesting stories about the Toronto technology scene with their community.

(2) Reconnecting with old friends
My second story is about how I came to be having coffee with my colleague – who I hadn’t been in touch with in about 3 years.  I was on LinkedIn last week and saw a feed from her Twitter account in the LinkedIn “Network Activity” news feed.  She mentioned that she was going to be participating in the new year’s day “Polar Bear Dip” on behalf of Habitat for Humanity.  Since the “polar bear dip” is on my bucket list, I commented on her Tweet.  She told me to join her because the Polar Bear Dip needs more crazy people like me – see her response below 😉  I’m still trying to work-up the courage to join her!

That same week, she e-mailed me to ask if I’d like to go for coffee to catch up.  I of course said yes and had a great time chatting with her about the trials and tribulations of being a freelancer.  We’re now helping each other out through a collaboration document to share the best tools and tricks we can find in social media – we’re both learning as we go.  I’m so excited to be working with her again – even if it’s just a virtual collaboration.

colleague's response tweet

Practical application for your business:
These examples are ways that Twitter has helped me to connect with people to advance my personal interests.  If it can work to keep my eyes open for personal opportunities – the same can be applied to finding customer opportunities in business.  The application of the tool works in the exact same way.

Please share your stories and ideas about finding new customer opportunities through Twitter.