But first a cup of tea.
I had my vision of why my potential clients would want to work with me, now it was time to get out there and let them know what I could offer. I knew I had the skills to deliver for clients. I definitely had the financial drive. The successful freelancer psyche model was telling me that the leg on my stool that I needed to focus on was desires – getting my message out there. Nobody knew I was in the marketplace. I’d had a baby, was pivoting my career and was in a new city with few networks.
It was time to do my research, talk to people and find out what opportunities were out there. So that’s what I did. I arranged meetings with people in my somewhat limited network – friends and neighbours primarily, but also a few work contacts. I talked to them about my vision of what I could do and then I listened, and I learned. I listened for opportunities and as I listened, I learned more about the city I was living in and where and how there might be opportunities.
AND I CAN DRAW A LINE, ALBEIT A SQUIGGLY ONE, FROM A CUP OF TEA WITH MY NEIGHBOUR JANE, TO BECOMING THE AUTHOR OF THE FREELANCE BIBLE.
Jane and I had regular cups of tea during my maternity leave, as a theatrical costumier her studio was at her house, so it was a nice break for both of us during the day. She also knew a lot of people locally and it was during one of these chats she suggested that she introduce me to her colleague Annette who worked at Birmingham City University running an MA in Creative Enterprise. That sounded like a great fit, so I arranged to meet Annette, who invited me to give a lecture to her students on my story – turning Girls Angels from an idea into a business reality.
Being the consummate freelancer, of course I said yes, it was exactly the sort of work I was looking to pick up. The only snag being that I’d never delivered a lecture to students and was extremely daunted by the idea. Presentations at work – no problem. Standing up and delivering a lecture to students – scary. And, worse was to come, there were only 5 of them in the class and it was 2 hours long! Annette was extremely supportive. I delivered the class and it can’t have gone that badly as she asked me back. Throughout all this I could hear my mentor Mike Southon whispering in my ear “sell them a little thing, do it well and from there you can build a relationship with your client.”
And that’s exactly what happened over the course of the next 6 years I got to know more and more of the senior staff in the creative schools. I became a Visiting Fellow and was regularly asked to deliver classes across a wide range of creative courses and then was also commissioned to deliver a series of strategic projects.