With the lifestyle possibilities, the freedom of working hours, and no longer being considered a side-hustle, the freelance route is more popular than ever before, but the unpredictability of the market, not to mention the recent disturbances, makes freelancer life challenging, some months having a surplus of customers, to suddenly having non and not knowing when you will receive your next payment.
If you are amongst the collective, offering services such as graphic design, marketing, blogging, or PR to name a few, you may be sitting on all the skills required but without a consistent stream of bookings, you may find yourself in a dilemma to remain financially comfortable. As a freelancer, acquiring customers is one of the biggest challenges you will face, your greatest means for generating customers is to network, network, network!
Although a great amount of work is available through various platforms and websites, there are also a plethora of freelancers ready to pounce immediately, therefore, you need to be proactive and find alternative sources.
With the reduced reach and budgets of freelance businesses, networking is your biggest customer-generator in addition to word-of-mouth referrals, this is where you can capitalise on networking possibilities designed to connect like-minded individuals in your geographic location, forming business relationships with those who can book your service, refer you to their peers, put your name out there amongst their networks, or mutually create business opportunities and ventures.
Freelancers can connect potential customers through various websites for example InterNations, the largest online expat community.
Another valuable gateway to a diverse range of potential customers is to attend business and even social networking events, it could be as simple as a local sports group or the community service clubs, where you can make connections with individuals based in your locality, building a pipeline of contacts in various organisations, who may not require your service immediately, but may do the following month, or know somebody else who does.
Networking can be made even easier if you have companions with you, acting as an icebreaker, consider taking along other freelancers who can also benefit from networking for their specialist fields, making the entire process more enjoyable and rewarding for all, they, in turn, would invite you to other events you may not have otherwise known of.
Benefits of Networking
Customer acquisition is the primary objective, however, networking provides much more than just your revenue stream, it is an opportunity to get a feel for what others are doing and to learn how to adapt the knowledge into your own business, including:
– Discovery of gaps you may have in your business. Taking the newfound knowledge and incorporating it into your own business to fill spaces you were not aware of.
– Understand how your approach is unique to others, taking this information and emphasising your contrasting stance to others in your field.
– Learn new trends in the market from the real world and in real-time, so you can act upon them simultaneously as others, rather than reacting to them afterwards.
– Identify best practices to align your service accordingly.
– Gaining credibility in the market by meeting and discussing topics with people, sharing your valuable insight.
– Grow your social network and enjoy the reason you became a freelancer in the first place, to give yourself an improved work/life balance.
For any business, one of the biggest concerns stems from a lack of customers, this is increased for freelancers who have no retail space for organic foot flow, but as discussed in this article, your ability to generate customers simply takes a different form, the power of networking. Yes, there are social media channels and various digital marketing tools, but never underestimate the power of networking for business growth, making genuine connections, without a torrent of similar freelancers standing in your way.
You may already be doing great, which is wonderful, but hopefully, you may have picked up a few additional points in this article to assist you further on your journey.
An article by Gautam Gajjar.