Tag Archives: networking

Expanding Your Freelance Network

freelance networkCatherine’s post yesterday, “Helping Another Writer = Good Karma,” was a timely one for me, and I wanted to expand on her thoughts—because it’s even better for your freelance business if you expand your freelance network beyond just referrals for other writers.

Some examples from the past week:

  • I received a referral from a client for a PR project that was really outside my expertise, so I sub-referred it to someone I know who’s capable of pulling it off.
  • I referred a long-time graphic designer colleague, who’s recently gone freelance, to a client who needs some high-end talent.
  • And while editing a white paper for another client, it occurred to me that another client (a professional speaker and author) might find the content useful for her audiences, so I introduced and connected them, too.

None of these will result in direct business for me, and I don’t know for sure if it will mean additional business for any of the people I’ve introduced to each other. And as Catherine pointed out, my motives for doing it were a blend of unselfish and selfish. Sure, I might help some folks generate some additional revenue. Sure, if my matchmaking works, I’m going to cultivate some good karma with clients and potential clients as well as fellow freelancers…and maybe some additional business or referrals will come back my way down the road. There’s nothing wrong with that, eh?

From a bigger-picture perspective, I think we often fool ourselves into thinking that participation in social media means we’re being social. It doesn’t. Real business means picking up the phone or sending a thoughtful email, personally connecting partners, clients, colleagues or friends in ways that improve their own networks and results.

In the comments, share your matchmaking tips or anecdotes. What do you do to expand your freelance network and influence?

Jake Poinier dispenses freelancing advice at DoctorFreelance.com and runs a Phoenix-based editorial services firm, Boomvang Creative Group.

Photo courtesy of Nate Brelsford.

Networking Mistakes

I’m a fan of CNNMoney’s “Ask Annie” column, which generally contains solid advice for job seekers or people trying to survive corporate life, but often has insights applicable to freelancers. Annie’s most recent article, “6 networking mistakes job hunters make,” offers some great tips for when you’re looking for freelance jobs through networking channels. It’s worth reading the whole thing, but here’s a quick look at the highlights.

  • First, she takes to task the idea of asking “do you know of anything?” It’s non-specific and just comes across as lazy and, even worse, desperate. Make sure you’re putting targeted ideas into peoples’ heads in order that they can help you more easily and accurately, and that they can see you’ve done your homework.
  • Neglecting to reconnect with people you haven’t seen or spoken to in a while. This is a tried-and-true strategy for referral-focused freelancers. Last week I met with an old contact to meet for lunch and we had a great time swapping travel tales and childrearing travails, and it turns out he’s got a contact at a national magazine that might be a good fit for me. The point is, don’t feel like you’re “imposing” if it’s someone you have/had a good relationship with. In fact, he felt guilty about not having contacted me first–and he picked up the tab!
  • Relying too much on social networking—again, this comes across as lazy and probably fruitless. If you want the best freelance gigs, you need to reach out with your stellar personality (it is stellar, right?) in a more personal way.

Just like sales and marketing, networking doesn’t have to be cheesy, sleazy, or artificial. But you do have to make a concerted, strategic effort…or you’re likely wasting what little time and energy you put into it.

Contributing writer Jake Poinier blogs regularly as Dr. Freelance and runs an Phoenix-based editorial services firm, Boomvang Creative Group.

Keep your friends close and your editors closer

By Amanda Smyth Connor1285834_four_hands

Steady employment for those in the writing/editing industry appears to be going the way of the Dodo in the midst of today’s economic crisis. You may find that one day you are happily emailing your favorite editor and the next day, they’re gone and you’re suddenly working with a new editor – or worse, you can’t figure out who to contact at all.

Crap. Now you have to start the relationship from ground zero and work your way back up with a new editor.

The good news is that, as an editor, every time I have left a job, I have taken all of my favorite writer’s contact info with me. The first thing I do upon taking a new job is to begin reaching out to my existing arsenal of writers. It looks good for me, professionally speaking, to bring these existing relationships with me and it works out well for my writers when I am once again in a position to begin hiring them for new projects.

Editors and writers have a delightfully symbiotic relationship. They need you as much as you need them, so don’t ever believe for one second that you are entirely at their mercy. And because of this shared need to maintain relationships despite unsteady employment, I make it a point to update my LinkedIn as often as possible and to keep my writers up to date on any career changes I undergo, whether it is taking on a new position with my existing company or whether I move to an entirely different company.

Employment opportunities are, as they say, not about what you know as much as who you know, and you never know when you will be in a position to help a friend secure a new position. My advice to you is to keep networking, maintain your relationships and keep that contact list up to date.

The Perfect Questionnaire

541349_spreadsheet_1By Amanda Smyth Connor

Before ever putting pen to paper, you will have met with your client several times to discuss the scope of the project before you. Presumably, you will have had a preliminary interview, followed by several formal (or informal) meetings to nail down all of the details so that there are no surprises along the way. How you go about these meetings is entirely up to you, but if I may, I’d like to pass along some advice.

Do yourself a favor and come up with whatever you consider to be “The Perfect Questionnaire.” Come up with a list of top questions that must be answered in order to quickly and efficiently complete any project. I would recommend including the following:

  • What tone/style specifically are you looking for and please provide an example of writing that exemplifies this tone/style. (Feel free to add some options regarding tone/style that a client might choose from to help guide them.)
  • Who is your key demographic (specifically – age, gender, etc)
  • What specific key points need to be called out in this project?
  • Would you like a call to action included in this project and if so, please clarify what this/these call(s) to action might be.
  • What is the end goal of this project? (Include examples, such as “to drive readers to your site”, “to increase traffic”, “to educate/inform”, “to entertain”, etc.)
  • Who are your direct/top competitors?
  • Is there anything specific that I may not be aware of that should NOT be mentioned?
  • What are your top keywords? Do you have an SEO strategy that I need to follow?
  • When does the final version of this project need to be delivered?

The client may be in charge during the interviewing and preliminary stages of any project, but once you begin discussing the details of the project, it is up to you to drive the meeting and to make sure you ask the right questions and gather as much info as you can. Do your homework and create a great questionnaire for yourself and your future clients – it will save you loads of time and will make your job that much easier.

Amanda Smyth Connor is a community manager for a major publishing company, owns her own wedding planning business, and has managed online communities and content development for many start-up and Fortune 500 companies.  She has been a professional editor for more years than she can remember.

The Importance of Referrals

By Amanda Smyth Connor616726_handshake

I’m meeting a fellow editor for lunch later today. She’s buying. It’s a nice gesture of thanks that she’s extending to me for sending a few jobs her way, and while this is a simple gesture on both our parts, its effect is far reaching for both of us.

I’ll admit that I am the first person to overbook and overextend myself. I struggle every day to learn how to say “no” to new jobs and projects, because once that steady stream (or tidal wave) of business hits, you never know when your next dry season might pop up. However, when business hits critical mass and I know I’m in over my head, I’m happy to make referrals to other editors who I know and trust.

Not only will I happily send business to other editors/writers, but I know that they will do the same for me, thus building a small safety net for ourselves for down the road. During my next dry season, when I’ve got plenty of time on my hands and not enough projects, with any luck, one of these referrals will find its way back and I’ll be back in business and happy as a clam.

This is not the time to hoard clients or to be selfish about business. Casting that net of referrals will certainly help you down the line. And making friends in the business, even if these friends are your freelance competition, will pay off when that bit of unexpected business lands on your doorstep courtesy of a friendly resource.

It seems like obvious advice: Make friends. Be nice. Share.  But in any business industry, you find friendly supporters and cutthroat individuals. I would much rather be counted among those who are attracting business with honey than with vinegar.

Amanda Smyth Connor is a community manager for a major publishing company, owns her own wedding planning business, and has managed online communities and content development for many start-up and Fortune 500 companies.  She has been a professional editor for more years than she can remember.

Writers: Always Networking?

neuronby Catherine L. Tully

Let’s face it–as a writer–you are never “off”.

What I mean by that statement is this: if you are talking to someone, there is potential for work. I know this to be true because I have found jobs in the most unlikely places.

While a great deal of my work is from repeat clients or referrals, a sizable chunk comes from a weird sort of networking. For example, I have been to parties and other functions where I met someone who needed writing done for a project. I have gotten editing work from a “friend of a friend of a friend”. I have even seen had a nibble or two from people who were standing next to me in line somewhere who overheard me talking about what I do.

So what am I getting at exactly? It’s really quite simple. As a writer, you are always networking. It’s exhausting, to be sure, but it can also be a good thing. Stumbling into a good account when you are least expecting it isn’t exactly something to complain about.

To that end, I have a few tidbits to share that can be helpful in terms of getting the most out of your contact with others. Here they are:

  • Always mention what you do for a living when you are talking to someone. Be sure to give examples too, as some people will assume you write books if you don’t tell them otherwise. (Unless, of course, you do write books.)
  • Carry a few business cards with you at all times. Give them out liberally. You never know when someone might pass one along to a potential client.
  • Have a website. This is provides a very easy way for people to find you and see what your services are. That way you don’t have to hammer it home when you first meet them. (Be sure your website addy is on your business card.)
  • Don’t be afraid to use your network. Tell those you are close to that you’d appreciate it if they would spread the word you are a writer. If you can return the favor, do! (For example, if you know a carpenter, dentist, etc…)

These are just some of the ways you can tap into the social scene and drum up some clients. Do you have any to add? Feel free to share!