When it comes to landing clients, relationship building is a critical component. There’s something to the “who you know” phrase: thousands of people get jobs through personal connections each year, and the situation is similar for freelancers trying to find new clients.
Here are some pro-tips on how you can relationship-build using Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, and use those connections to get new work.
How to find clients on Facebook
A key part of finding clients anywhere is networking. And the best place to do that on Facebook is within groups.
Facebook groups differ from pages in that they can be secret, private, or public. Unlike pages, a group is a place where anyone can post. It’s more about community and collaboration, whereas pages are usually a company posting their news, events, etc.
For freelancers, the key is joining groups where your customers are. For instance, if you’re a graphic designer, join a group of small business owners/online entrepreneurs…who may need graphic design work.
Saad Kamal, an avid Facebook group networker who partakes in multiple groups, recommends to treat FB groups “how you would treat any other group social setting in real life.” Because “nobody likes a salesman”.
“Groups are a great place to showcase your skills and ability because even when you are helping just one person, hundreds are watching your depth of knowledge and generosity,” says Saad.
Providing value is key. Over time, others in the group will notice your contributions and start remembering your name. And then when they need help with your specialty (e.g. designing a new logo), you won’t even need a sales or a services page–they’ll think of you.
Saad’s number one FB group strategy is to take your conversation off social media. Social media is where you start talking, but you’ll want to take it to email, phone, or Skype to close the deal.
How to find clients on Twitter
Lots of people tweet when they are looking for a new hire.
Twitter has great search functionality, like Google. You can type in something similar to the below: ”freelance designer needed”.
Check hashtags, too (see above: #freelance). Another tip is look at exact phrases in their advanced search feature. Look up phrases like “I need a graphic designer,” which will bring up results for everyone who has tweeted that phrase recently. If you can respond to them quickly (even within an hour), you may just be the designer they choose!
Social media marketing strategist Jen Lehner explains that two things make Twitter powerful: (1) heavy traffic, and (2) it’s the most open social media platform.
“This means that anyone can connect with anyone, as long as the person you are trying to connect with has a Twitter handle. There need not be a reciprocal relationship,” says Jen.
Essentially, you can reach out to anyone with a tweet. Even big names like Tim Ferriss or Jason Calacanis. It allows you to engage directly.
One way to stand out is by sending a video tweet with a direct message to that person. Jen says, “This makes an incredible impression on the recipient and takes advantage of what makes Twitter so special…a platform for real human engagement.” They’ll be more likely to remember who you are if they see your face instead of just words with a username.
In fact, Jen has personally witnessed the power of video tweets: she crafted one for a marketing industry leader, who had mentioned that he needed a conference speaker on Twitter. In her video, Jen volunteered (without ever having spoken to him before) to fill the role. “He invited me on his very popular podcast, and I’m in the lineup for his conference in 2016,” Jen says. “Twitter is powerful.”
How to find clients on LinkedIn
LinkedIn is the social media network for professionals. The site is now 400 million members strong, and constantly growing. However, many freelancers and even business owners think LinkedIn is not for them because they are not looking for full-time work. Big mistake.
In reality, LinkedIn is the ultimate personal branding tool. Moreover, it is “responsible for more than 80% of a business’s social media leads” according to Kissmetrics. In comparison, “other social media platforms put together only amount to 19.67% of leads”.
Also notable: in October 2015 LinkedIn launched a new feature called ProFinder, where people can hire freelancers and independent professionals in their area. (Note: You must apply to be considered.) However, it goes to show that LinkedIn is thinking about the 54 million freelancers (and counting) in the US alone.
Here are some client generation tactics specifically for LinkedIn:
1. Make sure your LinkedIn profile is completely filled out and up to date. When your profile is 100% complete, or an “all-star,” you are 40 times more likely to receive opportunities through LinkedIn.
2. Be strategic in LinkedIn groups. Engage. Get in the right groups. Provide value first; submit your own articles/questions later.
3. “Review who’s looking at your profile or reading your posts (if you’re blogging there) and see if there is anyone new you might want to connect with on the list,” suggests LinkedIn expert Sandy Jones-Kaminski.
4. Update your status with relevant industry talking points: new books you love, an upcoming event or conference you plan to attend, etc. This gives people opportunities to start conversations with you.
5. Connect with people. Instead of applying to jobs, look for people with titles that indicate they might want to hire you. I.e. if you are a freelance writer, look up marketing managers, or blog content managers.
For more on what makes a stellar LinkedIn profile, check out this profile completion checklist.
The Common Denominator
Regardless of which social media platform you’re on, the key is to provide value (and do it for free). Give advice (as long as you actually know what you’re talking about), trade tips, link to interesting articles, etc. Don’t go straight into a hard sale or market yourself too aggressively: people are turned off by pushiness, especially on social media.
Once you make a connection with someone, make sure to take the conversation off the platform you’re on. Business is best conducted in more than 140-character tweets!
Whether you’re starting your freelance business or growing an existing client base, download our free essential guide to launching a freelance career.