How did I manage to work freelance full time without ever having to market a single client?
Pillar of the success of your freelance life, the network builds up over time. The ingredients are simple and accessible to all: time, kindness and passion, and a minimum of sociability.
Here is the recipe I use all around the world, every day, to build and maintain my network…
Create your network (from 1)
Nobody starts from zero
You may not know it, but you already have a network, and surely the strongest of all: your friends and your family. Your professional network is not necessarily filled with purely professional contact. Look wider! Every person around you is a potential opportunity.
My first two contracts were the creation of the website of the study office that my father had redeemed, and the development of an application for my brother-in-law.
For me, the important thing that you are in the world’s largest networking evening (#ToujoursPlusLoin) or Grandma Janette’s birthday, is to manage your relationships with sincerity and without ulterior motive. Be vrai.es, we will return it to you, I promise!
Network, move it easy
Be sure of one thing: if you stay in your corner, no one will pick you up! It is a fact, and yet many do not know how to go out, show, and meet people! #GetUpAndWalk
To be as concrete as possible, I will tell you about my activities, but my example is transposable in all areas. Working freelance is also about opening up to others.
Vents, there are everywhere, all the time and often, stand well.. It’s FREE! Do we still know how to find them… For my part I use a lot the application Meetup (Meetup in France) which lists many events around me on many different themes. The advantage of these Meetup (it has become a generic name) is that very often after the talks, there is a time of networking.
I also like to participate very much in the TedX! These are moments dedicated to listening to more or less inspiring people (depending on your sensibility) who tell you their experiences, each for 20 minutes. Beyond the exciting nature of this kind of intervention, I always take the opportunity to go exchange during breaks with the world, either I know already (well or only crossed), either with the speakers, or finally, with new people around a Coffee. Know that you will often find the same people in all the events in your area. When you’re passionate, you don’t count;). There are tedX all over the world, and for the news it’s happening here =
Shy? You can also create your network!
Are you shy or afraid to start a conversation with a stranger? My advice: Go with a friend, E! It is much simpler to be two rather than alone and to be afraid to make “bar pillar”. Then stretch your ear and jump on the first opportunity you find: “Excuse me, I thought I heard you were talking about [topic that interests you — or not], and it’s good because just [blah].” There are a thousand and one way to engage in a conversation, and not afraid to intrude, people are accustomed to these kinds of events and you will be generally very welcome!
Startup Weekend: Boost your network in 54h
The weekend Startup, Hackathon, Service Jam and so on, are events that I recommend and that I particularly like. If you do not know, these are events often from 24 to 54h or you have to answer, as a team to a problem (set up a startup, create the new service of a company, develop an application for the transport of tomorrow, etc…). This is the time to create strong links (when you work for 48 hours on a subject, that you have not taken a shower, that you have not slept, believe me, it brings!), show you, make you a name, and meet a maximum of people in very little Time and very simply!
One of my most memorable memories was following the victory of a hackathon sponsored by EDF. I had presented with my team an “AI” capable of analyzing the environment Of the user and to predict certain data. EDF subsequently invited me to pitch the project several times with to finish a presentation in front of one of the N ° 2 of the group France. Beyond the contacts that have brought me, it is a real positive experience that I take away. I could tell you dozens and dozens of others of this type, but the most important thing is that every time it is an extraordinary human experience and I always come out with lots of good contacts. You can participate in whatever your skills are, it’s open to everyone!
- Startup Weekend
- Jam Service
- Hackathon: On social networks, in the tech groups of your region, in incubators etc..
Finally, identify the groups (I mean by group, any concentration of people passionate and/or competent in a field, whether on the Internet or in the local association) of your region, France or elsewhere that are influential in your field and Once again… overlay! Beyond the opportunity to meet people, you will often have the opportunity to learn a lot of new things, and to listen to some really interesting folks. My advice here is not to confine yourself to your area, but feel free to expand to the maximum. For example, I am now a developer, but I participate in vents on design, on UX, on management, at workshops on drawing (if I swear), etc.. Be interested in everything, we will be interested in you!
Cream of the cream is also a great example. Very generalist, but centered on the freelancing, it is a community that will allow you to meet full of freelancers like you, who have experienced galleys and successes and who will be delighted to share them with you. And why not bring your business to each other. I have integrated the community there is little, and I have already matched with many people who have allowed me to write this chapter!
The Tinder of professionals
Last tips that serves me from time to time is the application Shapr. If you know Tinder (go do not like, everyone knows), it is the same, but to make professional meetings. I’m not a big fan, because I prefer the relationships “in real life”, but it still allowed me to meet a lot of people more or less interesting. A good way if you are looking for something concrete like a person in a particular field, an internship, or to integrate a specific sector. http://www.shapr.co/
I’m not going to introduce you to Linkedin, you certainly know (in case of: the professional network). It is a very good network to find professional opportunities, but it is also excellent to build your reputation. I post from time to time my experiences or the meetings I have been able to make. By doing this, I generate lead and I sometimes attract interesting people.
Old school but still so effective: business cards. It’s always nice to be able to slip cards at people you’ve met. Personally, I always do mine on https://www.moo.com/fr/, but there are dozens of different sites.
Become an actor in your network
Having been several times at the Meetup of an association of my region (Orléans Tech https://orleans-tech.com/) I sympathized with a lot of people of this one. After a few months, they offered to join the office, something I obviously accepted without hesitation. It is a godsend to be able to integrate this kind of Asso! The first reason I accepted is because the people who run it are basically nice, and because I like the subject. I insist, but I do not do things out of interest, it is for me the best way to wrong them…
But today, it opens me up full of doors, and once again it allows me to meet a lot of people.
Feel free to become an actor in your network and take time to integrate. This will necessarily benefit you humanly and professionally.
It seemed important to me to make a small point about what a business carrier is (maybe you tomorrow).
A businessman is as the name implies, someone who will bring you on a silver platter a nice deal ready to be billed. It’s an “ephemeral” intermediary between you and your future client. It is often people on your network who trust you and put their credibility into play. When this happens to me (and it is often when your network is strong and trusts you) I respect some codes:
-I pull twice as much, not to disappoint neither my client nor the businessman
-Nothing is FREE! I always commission my business bringers, even when it is not explicitly asked.
-I do not forget. It is an active person of my network on whom I will concentrate more effort.
-I am thankful. If I can return the favor tomorrow, I do not hesitate.
On the other hand when I am the business bringer, I always require a rétrocommission on the contract (usually between 10 and 15%)
Create your network and maintain it
You built your network? It is very active, starts to bring you business, you are recognized in your industry and people trust you? BRAVO, you are on the right road to work freelance!! But it’s not over…
From experience, be aware that a network is deconstructing much faster than it is built. And if you rest on your laurels because you have a beautiful network you will quickly disenchant… Take the time to maintain contact, to show your presence on the vents and on social networks, to respond to solicitations, to continue to meet new people, etc..
I can hear you already… “You’re cute, but one, time I have none, I’m already cart on my projects, and two, time is money”.
OK, but it’s the opposite of my thoughts. Time has never been more profitable since I use it to network. Today I work freelance, and I never needed to walk a single client.
Go! Prepare your zygomatic and arm yourself with your best smile, your network is waiting for you!