Your network is one of your most valuable assets as a freelancer. It needs to be tended and nurtured, and when it’s done well it can reap substantial rewards.
IF YOU ARE AN ESTABLISHED FREELANCER YOUR NETWORK IS LIKELY TO HAVE MANY BUSINESS LEADS. HOWEVER, WHEN YOU ARE JUST STARTING OUT IT CAN SEEM LIKE A LARGE, EMPTY VOID THAT WILL NEVER BE FILLED.
But we all know a lot of people. Not all will become clients. However, if you reframe how you think about your network you can begin to uncover opportunities. Because your network is likely to be filled with people who can support you in a variety of ways.
CONSIDER THOSE WHO COULD ACT AS SPONSORS FOR YOU.
A sponsor is someone who talks about you when you’re not in the room. These people are my favourite: they are your own personal distribution channel, referring and recommending you whilst you are doing something else – hopefully earning money on another project or sleeping.
In order to be a sponsor for someone, you need to know a little about them, in particular why their particular flavour of freelance work adds value to clients. And this is where the nurturing and tending comes into play. To be the best sponsor, the information about you needs to be both current and client-focussed because your sponsor needs to be able pitch you quickly and succinctly, and in language that their client understands.
NETWORKS AND RECOMMENDATIONS ARE THE LIFE BLOOD OF FREELANCERS. DO A GOOD PIECE OF WORK FOR A CLIENT AND NOT ONLY WILL THEY RECOMMEND YOU, CHANCES ARE THEY’LL ASK YOU BACK WHEN THEY NEED MORE WORK DOING.
Some of the most exciting and challenging projects I’ve done as a freelancer have been through the recommendations of sponsors. That sponsor saw something in me that they believed I could do and recommends me to their colleague, or contact.
Remember, it’s not just about who’s being your sponsor. If you get a name for being someone who knows lots of good people and makes good recommendations, the phone will ring as people seek your advice. Being that great sponsor for others is also a successful marketing activity for yourself. Word of mouth is an extremely important distribution channel and is very valuable.