by Jodee Redmond
Are you wondering what it is? No, it’s not “Why won’t anyone hire me?”, although sometimes we have all thought that. The question you need to be asking more often is a variation of :
Who do you know?
You want to get people you know to start referring you to other people they know. We all hear about networking and how important it is to be developing relationships with other people. Most people would feel more comfortable dealing with someone they “know,” even if it is only in the virtual world.
So how do you start building these relationships? You start by telling everyone you know about what you do, and add to your usual 30-second elevator speech where you talk about your work the phrase, “…and if you know of anyone who might be interested in my services, I would be pleased to talk to them.” Then hand them your business card.
It doesn’t sound needy or desperate. Instead, it indicates that you are friendly, approachable, and very professional. (Which you are.)
When you finish a project for a client, always ask if there is anything else you can do for them. If they don’t have anything else for you (and you are interested in working with them again), tell them that you would be happy to do so in the future. Then you can go on to plant the referral seed by saying that if your client knows of anyone else who needs similar work done, you would be interested in speaking to them.
If freelancers talk about clients among themselves, then I’m willing to bet that people in a position to hire freelancers talk to each other too. You may not get anything back right away because networking takes time, but if you keep on casting your net out, eventually you will get something back.
This approach can also work when you have made the short list for a job but weren’t hired. If you get an e-mail letting you know that you didn’t get the job, thank the employer for having considered you and let them know that you would like to be considered for future opportunities. Just because you weren’t a good fit for one gig doesn’t mean there isn’t something else coming down the pipe from that client.
Then you ask them, “Who else do you know that I should be talking to?” They might know of someone else who is looking for someone right now, and don’t forget, they have already reviewed your resume and samples. Chances are that if they refer you to someone else, you would be a good fit for the job. The worst thing that will happen is that they don’t know anyone, and in that case you haven’t lost anything.
Don’t be afraid to ask a question. You may be very surprised at the response you get and where it might lead you.