It’s a pretty isolating gig being a freelancer. The water cooler conversations are few and far between given most days you’re in a home office space, where many freelance writers and other creatives tend to sit at a desk. Alone. Work does not come pouring through that laptop screen by osmosis, sad to say.
Being heard is about making the right kind of noise and the squeaky wheel always gets the oil. You need to be known to be found – perhaps through word of mouth, or online via a stunning personal website that has strong SEO capacity, in professional e-forums like starting a closed LinkedIn group or joining an entrepreneurial event in your local city.
To be heard is really about how you communicate with the audience that matters most to you, no matter their sector or location.
In eight years since I formally launched Bespoke Communications, from the dining room of my apartment in Sydney, once thing has remained at the core of my success: the power of networking.
As an introvert, the idea of meeting a stranger for a coffee meet-up or even a power lunch used to fill me with dread. I was a former newspaper journalist, not a seasoned salesperson. Yet meeting new people has been my number one way of sustaining a pipeline of work. It allows any freelancer to survive the natural feast and famine cycle of running their own show.
Forget making cold calls (or emails) or getting along to business card swapping frenzies making small talk over a glass of house wine – modern day networking is a far more finely-tuned process but it’s the best way I know to grow your freelance client base.
I actually have learned to love the game of expanding my professional network. It has built my small business from a small sole trader agency proving short term PR campaigns to other small businesses to a thriving PR strategy and media training entity with big end of town clients around the world. I even can afford the luxury of a PA two days a week, which has helped me to no end in terms of getting out of running the day to day business to being able to work on the business too. But I digress.
Here are my top three tips to getting heard and generate a lifestyle and income that suits your freelance path:
- Find a mentor – it can be informal, but make time to seek out someone more senior in their career than you to help you. Asking for help and filling in your knowledge gaps of how to make your personal brand as a freelancer shine is a strength, not a sign of weakness.
- Join a non-industry based networking group – my example was the LBD Group, Here, I have enjoyed three years of net weaving with other business owners and corporate leaders who have come to understand and more importantly, recommend my training workshops and speaking forums to get me new business leads in a really collaborative fashion. And for a while I was the ONLY PR person in the network so it did mean I had an instant market edge.
- Create a sales funnel: It kind of looks like this:
It’s super simple and not rocket since, but means every week I have a visual representation pinned on my noticeboard of exactly who I need to set up initial meetings with, or finish proposals for or even chase up for future work if they have not heard from me in a few months. It keeps me on track and lets me know what I need to do next.
Being heard is about being great at what you do, but ensuring you are sharing that journey (and demonstrating your expertise and celebrating your wins) consistently your current and future clients.
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