Networking to find your first customer
Starting a career as a freelancer can be incredibly exciting, but like any new path, it can be full of anxiety as well.
One of the most significant challenges facing a new freelancer is getting the first client. At this point, you have no testimonials, or reviews as proof of your expertise, and truthfully, businesses are loath to take a risk on a rookie. In this article, I will be sharing ways you can leverage networking to get your first client and generate consistent work for yourself.
Understand the concept of networking
Networking is one of the tools available to you as a freelancer looking for your first clients, and it is a very important one when you first start. It means leveraging your professional and personal relationships to advance your freelance business.
People naturally prefer to hire someone they know, not necessarily the most qualified. If you have a relationship with someone, then they will more likely give you the job instead of someone they don’t know. Below are some ways you can get the best out of networking as a freelancer searching for your first client.
Being good at networking involves being social, open-minded and most importantly focusing on how you can help others. When you approach networking correctly it will pay long-term benefits to you both personally and professionally. While focusing on the needs of others is key, networking won't help you get clients if you do not let it be known what you do and that you are available for work. Getting clients through networking requires you to actively seek work opportunities.
Utilize your connections
When searching for your first client, you shouldn’t hesitate to tap into your existing network. You may know what most of them do and might think they won’t need your services. However, the essence here isn’t getting them to hire you, instead because they can act as an invaluable referral army. From social media to verbal conversations, any of them can come across a related job and refer you.
Many freelancers have said to me that they got their first client through a referral.
If there is anyone you know who owns a business, you should tell them you are looking for freelance work. Ask if it is okay to send your portfolio over to get their advice, and ask about anyone who they think might need your services. They may be able to refer you to someone looking for your skills right now, but it is just as important that they know what you are offering so they can send you referrals later.
Make friends with other freelancers.
A perfect way of extending your network is finding others in the same boat as you. Freelancers rarely see each other as competitors, and they would be happy to give you tips, tools and recommendation on how to get jobs. Also from time to time freelancers do have large projects, which would require more hands, and you can be hired as part of the team.
A note of encouragement
Getting your first freelance client may not be easy, but I assure you it will happen! It's up to you and following the tips listed above, you are bound to get your first job and then many more.