Can you get freelance clients with social networking?
A few weeks ago, Allison Marquardt commented on the post When freelancing fails and asked some great questions:
I’m wondering about the role of the web and social networking in freelancing. I’m a working writer, but I’m curious about what you think about these things as a promotional tool for freelance writing.
Should I spend time with these things first, or should I just try to get some more work? Things like Linked In, Facebook, Twitter, creating my own blog, etc. I mean, I could spend hundreds of hours bringing these things up to par in an effort to get more clients. Or maybe they aren’t so important. Can I get clients without having 100 connections on LinkedIn, a big Facebook presence and my own daily blog? Do most clients expect to find you on LinkedIn and Facebook? Or don’t they really care, as long as you do good work and meet their deadlines?
Is a good electronic portfolio adequate these days, or is full participation in the social media game a necessity?
Here was my answer to her:
Wow. That’s a lot of questions. And all good ones. Maybe I should write a post on this to answer it.
The short answer is that you can promote your services and find clients in many different ways. It all depends on who your clients are and what works for you.
I still think my short answer was spot on, but let’s take a look at the long answer to fill in the details a little.
If you would have asked me a few years ago if social networking made any difference for freelancing, I would have said no. And to some extent, I think that’s still the case.
However, as social media has matured, it is becoming more obvious how it can help you network more broadly and effectively, especially with business tools such as LinkedIn. The caveat is that you need to take it seriously and do real networking, and not waste time sending links for funny cat videos and chatting about your personal life.
The key is this: who are your clients and where are they? If they’re on Twitter, that’s a good way to reach them. If they’re not, why waste the time?
In my view, Twitter and Facebook are not ideal ways to get clients. LinkedIn, however, is a business tool specifically created to network. This is the best place to start if you want to add social tools to your prospecting.
Adding a blog to your website is also a good idea, but it takes time for a payoff. A blog adds fresh content and keywords to your site, so you can rank higher in the search engines. But you must be prepared to devote time to it and be patient. My business blog ranks high for keywords such as direct mail copywriter, but remember that my website has been around for many, many years and has hundreds of pages of content.
Do clients expect to find you on particular social networks? Do they expect you to have a blog? No. Unless you’re going for clients whose business is social media marketing, most clients won’t care. They do expect you to have a website, but that’s all.
So back to my short answer: you can promote your services and find clients in many different ways. It all depends on who your clients are and what works for you.
For me, Facebook and Twitter have no benefit for my freelance business. I have an account with both, however I use Facebook exclusively to connect with personal friends and Twitter serves to bring traffic to my blogs. And for the most part, I have automated my Twitter posts with Google Feedburner. So I’m not spending much time with this.
If you’re looking to get more clients with social networking and online tools, I recommend the following:
- Use LinkedIn to start making connections for real networking (not socializing). You can connect with me on LinkedIn here.
- Use Jigsaw to help find contacts at specific companies.
- Use the phone and email to start a conversation and get projects from people you’ve connected with .
And here are 7 other quick ways to get clients.
Chime in. Are you using social networking to get freelance clients? What works for you? What’s a waste of time?
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