Why do I need to network?
Your network isn’t just a great source of clients and regular work, it’s also your go-to for shouting about what you do, gaining feedback and guidance, picking up referrals and sharing opportunities. We think that referrals and word of mouth are by far the most effective way to grow your business but find what works for you.
Tip: Don’t forget its a two-way street so give back where you can and try to make sure interactions are always as valuable as possible for everyone involved.
How can I grow my network?
Amazingly, word of mouth can account for up to 70% of new clients, so don’t be afraid to shout about what you’re doing. Previous employees, colleagues, uni and college friends can all help you get your foot in the door with new potential clients or spread the good word what you’re up to. Start simply by reaching out to family, friends and colleagues. This is also a great way to practice pitching, with less pressure.
Developing an online presence will also help to add value, building a website shouldn’t be your priority, but utilise social media to find local groups and connect with relevant clients and businesses to promote your work. Going digital is the perfect way for instant visibility, so make the most of LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram. Remember that you don’t necessarily need a following of thousands to have an impact – it’s better to have 10 or 20 people following you on social who care about what you have to say than 1,000 people who aren’t engaged. It’s also a good idea to run separate personal and business accounts – this way you can cultivate a refined and well targeted audience.
Don’t be afraid to do things the good old fashioned way – face to face is a great way to grow your network, so try to organise meetups, work from co-working spaces or grab a coffee with anyone you know who might have some relevant connections.
Why are referrals important?
It’s easy to see those who offer a similar service to you as competition, but they should definitely be part of your network as building relationships with people in a similar industry can be key for finding potential clients and jobs. For example, someone may have just rejected a job that wasn’t right for them, but is perfect for you. You could also team up with Slashies that offer a complimentary service, for example if you’re a graphic designer, you could work with a software engineer on the same project. Just because you work for yourself, doesn’t mean that it always has to be a solo project, so try to view other Slashies as your ‘colleagues’, not your competition.
How can I find the right clients?
Be selective. You might be tempted to gain as much work as possible, but a good way to manage time and workload, is to be selective. That’s right, you don’t have to say yes to everything, in the same way that not everyone will say yes to you.
Think about who you want to work with and the companies you want to associate with. Consider how well potential clients fit your brand and whether they seem like someone you can work well with. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a match made in heaven, but it’s helpful if you and your client are thinking along similar lines. You should also consider which jobs could lead to further opportunities and networks.
Going out on your own means you have total control, so start as you mean to go by working where you want, on your terms. This is the perfect opportunity to create your ideal client base, so do you research and think carefully about what you want it to look like.
How can I make my network sustainable?
Be selective with your jobs and make sure you’re confident that you can deliver to the highest possible standard and offer value to the service you provide. This in turn will make you a highly desirable asset to that client.
Creating value and delivering exceptional work will turn your network into your sales force. If every customer gives you a referral they will soon be growing your client base quicker than you can deliver the work.
What else can I do?
Why not try putting together some blog content? Producing content can be difficult in the early days, particularly if you don’t yet have a large following on social. But, in your downtime, think about issues which interest you or you think might interest your target client base and write and blog about it and post it on a platform like Medium. It’s these little things that can bring surprising leads and results.
So where should I begin?
If you’re struggling to get going start close to home. What person/business’/people do you already know well that you think could be valuable members or your network? Perhaps your favourite coffee shop is after some custom artwork or maybe you have a friend who needs some landscaping done? Start by reaching out to them and go from there.
Still have questions? Visit our FAQ page to find the answers you’re looking for.