Playing (Freelance) Match Maker

Ever wonder why all your freelance friends seem to be getting referrals for new work and you’re not?

I mentioned Monday that I was in a position recently to recommend several of the other writers within my network to my editor in chief at Pet Business. He happened to be looking for a few new writers and since I happened to know several writers who were looking for new work, I happily made the introductions.

I do things like that all the time. If I know someone looking for a service and I know someone offering that service, I’ll try to match the two up. I also keep my ear to the ground about jobs–if I know someone looking for a job and I know someone hiring, I’ll gladly introduce them.

But there are several people within my network right now who I’d happily endorse–if I knew what they did and who they want to be doing it for. In each case I know the person is reliable and would feel good recommending them. But I can’t make a connection if I don’t understand what they’re looking for.

Defining your Niche

While I’ve mentioned before that I don’t have an ideal clent right now, I *do* know the type of work I’m looking for–I’m looking to work with small businesses. My pitch is: I help small business owners convey what they’re passionate about in words. And when people ask me what I do, that’s what I tell them (seriously. And the last business networking event I attended, that pitch got me a $400 gig).

It identifies two very important things: first, who I work with (small business owners) and second, what I do for them (convey things in words). Typically, my pitch also prompts a follow up question — people ask “like what?” which is the perfect opportunity to talk about my latest project or the type of projects I’m looking for (by the way, just about everyone is either starting a website or knows someone who is–so I always make sure to mention that I write web copy).

Now, if you want to get recommendations, you need to make sure you share that information with everyone and anyone in your network–your mom, her best friend, that guy you met a few weeks ago at dinner… everyone. Consider adding it to your email signature

Of course, once you’ve been recommended by someone you still have to land the gig. But you’ll find when your pitch and marketing message is clear, recommendations come more often and are of a higher caliber than when you don’t.

Stay tuned–next week I’ll share some tips for weeding through prospective clients, including those who were recommended to you.

Disclaimer: No matter how well you pitch yourself, it’s inevitable that someone will still occasionally (or not so occasionally) ask you to do something for them for free. They’ll assume since you’re “friends” you’ll help out–after all, it’s not like you have a real job anyway. You just sit at home all day in your pajamas. At that point, it’s your call. How good of a friend are they, really?

[Image courtesy of Flickr user twm1340.]

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