Pitching and networking tips
Gulp - many freelancers find pitching for work and networking the most stressful bit of the job. It’s normal to feel nervous about approaching clients, but remember they don’t know how petrified/young/amateur you feel inside.
Find the Facebook group/Twitter meetup for you
If you’re starting out, online industry communities are brilliant places to break the ice. You don’t even have to meet with people in real life unless you want to. There are many communities, some of them very niche, so think about joining a couple until you get comfortable. You’ll get mutual support and they’re a place to get questions answered and find out who the key players are in the industry as well as getting work.
Understand how to use LinkedIn (if your industry uses it).
LinkedIn is a social network specifically designed to show off your skills and credentials. It’s a complex beast and like many social networks changes seemingly at will without really explaining what’s new, which is confusing. There are even LinkedIn masterclasses, but you probably don’t need to go that far – just be aware when you’re using it that, like any social network, you need to tread carefully. For example, other people can see you looking at their profile unless you explicitly request this isn’t the case – embarrassing.
Be ready, and use your initiative
Getting hired is always a combination of luck, skill and whether you’re ready to embrace an opportunity or not. Social media means networking is more fluid than ever – you’re likely to meet work people socially and vice-versa. So to some extent, you need to be thinking about work when you’re socialising. Be ready to show people the latest projects and chat confidently about your work and what opportunities you’re looking for. Then when you get lucky and meet someone who is looking for a freelancer, you’ll be poised to take action.
Find out exactly who you’re contacting
When you’re approaching an organisation for work, do your research and make sure you’re talking to the right person. If you really can’t get a name, start your email, ‘Dear Sir or Madam’, and courteously ask for help from whoever is checking that email inbox.
Other freelancers aren’t the enemy. If you pick up too much work, share it with someone you trust and know are good. Hopefully they’ll do the same for you, and recommend you if they can’t take on a project.
Join an industry body
With so many young people going freelance, you have various options when it comes to joining a professional institution – you could join a union, join the professional body for your industry, or join a professional body representing freelancers (or all three, but that’ll get expensive and result in a lot of unread email newsletters). Some will have cheap packages for younger people and should be able to help you with questions and support about things like copyright and claiming your fee if the client is being slow.