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The 12 Steps for Freelancers: Part Four, Forging Connections

vBENCH is proud to present The 12 Steps for Freelancers – a start-to-finish guide for the newly minted and well-seasoned consultant alike. Stay with us as we bring together fantastic resources with fresh insights that are guaranteed to improve the quality of your independence.

Forging Connections – Steps 7, 8 and 9

Step 7: Humbly asked our growing client base for referrals.

You will notice that this step clearly calls for a humble approach. Humility is not regularly talked about in relation to business interactions, but it can be a powerful tool that encourages you to remain receptive and teachable as you navigate your solo work. One compelling way to practice humility is to consciously seek a balance between your own needs and the needs of the client you serve.

As independent professionals, it can be easy to get tangled in the uncertainty that comes along with fluctuating income and a variable workload. We may grasp too quickly to get our next piece of business, forgetting that the path of least resistance often involves understanding the perspective of our client first. What if you simply asked yourself: How can I position my services as most valuable and relevant to my client? What actions can I take to cultivate and sustain a relationship of trust and reliability? We promise you’ll like the results.

Take a look at these five additional tips for getting client referrals.

Step 8: Made a list of all the projects we’ve worked on so far, and became willing to look for a common thread.

Freelancers are used to a certain level of continual hustle. But, developing a willingness to slow down and reflect on where you have been and where you are going will enhance the quality of your work exponentially. Look up from your laptop and commit to staying awake and aware of the bigger picture. Allow yourself to take advantage of the special privileges offered to you as the captain of your own professional ship. Below are a few questions to help get you started:

  1. Would specializing in a more specific industry or niche help you to better position your services and/or maximize your earning potential?
  2. Have you noticed that you work best with one particular type of client?
  3. Are there any skills that you could improve to become more marketable, or to help you enter a field that you have particular interest in?

Developing a practice of discernment as your freelancing career evolves is sure to pay off in the form of greater satisfaction, increased income and continuing vitality.

Step 9: Made direct connections with fellow freelancers wherever possible, strengthening our network and the community of independent contractors as a whole.

Do not underestimate the power of human connection. It can truly become one of your most indispensable and empowering resources. A community of fellows allows you to gain greater clarity by talking things out, become inspired by different points of view, and feel the strength of empathy and mutual understanding.

Try taking a tour or attending an event at your local coworking space – communal venues designed specifically for small and solo businesses. Find like-minded individuals and groups on Meetup.com.  Join lively conversation by posting and tracking comments on blogs you follow. Keep track of freelancers you admire and endorse them every chance you get (they’ll notice and very likely return the favor!). Make connection a habit, and make it count.

Keep in mind that it’s okay to let the process evolve over time, rather than pushing forward to the point of social exhaustion.  Shoot for quality, not quantity. There is undoubtedly going to be deliberate effort involved, and it can be daunting to embrace the vulnerability of presenting yourself and your business to the world. But, really, it’s totally worth it.

See you next week as we close out the blog series with Steps 10-12 and highlight the importance of deepening our roots personally and professionally. In the mean time, tell us about your own freelancing journey in the comments below. Which of the 12 Steps is most relevant in your life today?

Continuing Education:

Embrace your ability to change, and keep exploring! Below are a few additional tools to put in your freelancer toolbox…if you so choose.

How to Create Online Portfolios That Win Clients

Freelance Hourly Rate Calculator

The 3 Best Books For Entrepreneurs to Return To, Again and Again

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