It’s not what you know, but who you know

When I first went freelance in 2012 after the birth of my adorable (but very noisy) son, I immediately started making a profit. I’m not bragging (OK, maybe a little) but I was able to pay my bills and not worry about draining the savings that I had accumulated to use should the worst happen.

I didn’t make a profit because I was an awesome web developer (although, ahem, obviously I am).

I didn’t make a profit because I was turning over huge, high-profit jobs.

I didn’t make a profit because I had a ton of leads to rely on straight away.

I made a profit because straight away I told friends and family what I was doing and how they could help. Those friends and family introduced me to members of their direct professional circles, and some pushed leads my way. Some of those leads turned into clients (who I still work with today). Some of those clients referred other clients my way (who I also still work with today).

networkingWord of mouth grew my business quickly. I overcame social anxiety to attend networking meetings for mums in business, I joined facebook groups aimed at skilled professionals and I told everyone who’d listen about my business and the result, month after month, was a steady stream of income to pay my bills and feed my kids.

So as you can imagine, when I recently decided to return to the world of self-employment my priority was drawing upon this ‘resource’ yet again. Within hours of handing in my notice I had contacted key contacts in my industry to let them know I was working for myself again. I advised my clients, my family, my friends and the work is already flowing.

How can you use my experience to grow your business? Start talking about your business to everyone:

  • Tell your family and friends what it is that you do, tell them you’d like them to keep an ear out for opportunities that match your skillset
  • Reach out to local groups and networks and attend meet-ups and ‘social events’ – ask others what they do and talk about your own business
  • Get in touch with old acquaintences who might be able to push work your way
  • Get in touch with old colleagues or people you’ve worked with in the past to advise them what you’re doing

Of course this is just step 1. Once you’ve got the leads, then what? More on that another day…