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Freelancing and consulting: 5 reasons to postpone intensive social networking

As a marketing expert, I focus on how to land great B2B freelancing and consulting assignments quickly—in 30 days or less. I am especially dedicated to helping people find clients when they most need them, either because they are new to self-employment or because they are suffering from a dry spell, perhaps an extended one.

If you are underutilized and have too much free time, you may be tempted to start using social media, typically Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, to build a clientele, having heard that it’s working for some people. Quite probably it hasn’t worked for you yet, at least not to any appreciable degree, but someone you know knows someone you know and they’ve gotten a client so there’s hope.

A better idea

Instead, I recommend picking up the phone and calling the business people who can most benefit from your services. Why not? If you can help them out, why shouldn’t they be glad to hear from you?

While this isn’t the only way to build a practice, it can be the fastest if you go at it with dedication and optimism. And while there are other marketing techniques that may also work, I suggest that social media is probably a poor choice when you need paying clients fast.

Here are five reasons why:

  1. Social media must be strategic to win assignments on anything approaching a reliable timetable. You need to implement a plan beyond being a nice, interested person. First, you need to identify those with whom you will network who can actually give you assignments, not simply anyone you know from wherever you find them. If you have no connections on the big three or you are not already commenting on at least one LinkedIn group, it will take weeks to build up connections to receive your messages. Furthermore, if you will establish yourself as an expert worthy to be hired, you must demonstrate your expertise with content. It takes time to prepare content and push it out there. In summary, there’s a lot of work ahead of you.

  2. You have to allow considerable time to get results. I’ve heard experts recommend allowing a full year before assessing if social networking is working for you. They don’t mean a little of this and a little of that when you are in the mood. They are talking about a strategic, persistent, comprehensive effort that uses multiple types of social media, often including blogging and other content creation.

  3. Just because it has worked for other people doesn’t prove it is the best way to find work fast. When someone cites the success of a third party, get in touch with that third party and find out the story. People are flattered to be asked for advice. You want to find out if they got work more than once. Does the work continue to roll in? How long did it take to get their first assignment? Every marketing idea works at least occasionally, but you want something that works consistently, even if it relies on large numbers. And by the way, every single type of marketing relies on large numbers to achieve success.

  4. Social media takes a heck of a lot of time. Yesterday I saw a SurveyMonkey questionnaire asking how much time per day I spend on social media. The two lowest responses were two hours a day and not at all. I probably average 30 minutes a day, but that’s too little for the questioning expert to even take into consideration. Not a good sign.

  5. Social networking is too easy and too much fun. Once you get into it, you’ll want to keep at it without questioning if it is working for you. Most any other marketing tool, including the phone, will fall by the wayside as socializing becomes ever more addictive. Alas, you may think you’re building a biz with misspelled, dashed off, happy messages. Easy work drives out hard work.

In summary, if you need freelance and consulting clients right now, be wary of investing too much time and too much faith in social networking to bring in the business you need.


Originally posted 5-6-13

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