This guest blog is by Malie Bingham, founder of Pick Glass, a fantastic resource for freelancers in the fashion industry to help them build a strong network to grow their career or creative business.
Do you ever feel like you are constantly having to meet and pitch yourself to new potential clients? Wouldn’t it be nice to have a reliable clientele base that re-books you? One of the hardest things a freelancer deals with is trying to make that extra time to look for NEW work while working on their current job.
As a freelancer in the fashion industry, I used to feel very overwhelmed trying to juggle my current jobs with trying to land the next one. I often found myself falling into the habit of bouncing from one job to the next in a constant state of hustle. I would finish my work and mentally check out as I dashed off to my next gig. Then I would feel frazzled trying to promote myself to new potential clients and get burnt out. It took me a while, but I figured it out–I needed to use my current job and the people I was working with to help me get re-booked for more work or help me find that next project.
Now after working in the industry for almost two decades, I am usually the first person to tell you that networking is the key. However, you have to be smart about it. You want to make small efforts that have BIG results. Your goal should be to build a regular clientele and a strong referral base. This way you are spending less time hustling and more time putting money in the bank.
The following are 5 simple steps everyone should do after their freelance job is over to increase the likelihood of re-booking as well as your personal brand visibility in the industry.
1. Connect with everyone on the team.
In a creative field, like the fashion industry, most projects require several different people working together. This group of creatives are all working together to come up with the final product and make it a success. Collaborating with other creatives is exciting because you can learn from each other and share ideas. It is also a great opportunity for you to connect with some highly talented people that you might end up working with again and who can help to make that happen.
The key take away here is that the person who hired you for the job is not the only person you need to stay connected with. Be sure you connect with everyone else who took part in the project, not just your immediate boss. Everyone will be moving on to their next projects and they should keep you in mind! Be sure to swap contact info with everyone involved in the project before you leave.
Pro Tip: Make sure you get THEIR contact info. This way you are in control of reaching out to them and nurturing the relationship. Don’t leave it up to them to reach out to you.
2. Help promote the project.
The number one reason people will rehire you or give you a good referral is if you help them out. The best way to do this is to help promote every project you work on. Who wouldn’t love to get their product or service in front of more eyeballs? This simple step will help you stand out and be remembered!
Depending on the nature of the project you are working on, you may not be able to post about it right away. Ask the lead on the project when it will be publicized. Then make a note of that date and in the meantime, prepare some things that you can send out to help promote it at that time.
There are lots of different ways you can help to promote via your social media platforms. People love to see the behind-the-scenes images and stories to help them feel included in the brand.
3. Keep examples of your work up to date.
It is really important to keep your portfolio and online presence fresh with examples of your latest work. This helps new potential clients get a feel for your work, aesthetic, and your skill level. More importantly, it also helps you look busy and your personal brand will be perceived as in-demand. This higher perceived value could mean higher pay or sweeter gigs!
When you are finished with a project be sure to prepare some great examples of your work. Add them to your online portfolio as well as other platforms such as LinkedIn. Again, not all projects can be posted publicly. Be sure to find out when it’s ok to publish.
Pro Tip: You can do tips 2 & 3 at the same time. I am a firm believer in repurposing your content. Make it super easy on yourself and do these steps together.
4. Give credit where it’s due.
This tip is on how to silently self promote. This goes out to all you introverts who are shy about promoting yourself and your work. One trick to getting yourself and your work noticed is to promote others. People love it when other people are singing their praises and are more likely to return the favor.
In tip #3 I suggested that you keep examples of your work up to date on your personal website as well as LinkedIn. When you post these projects, you should be tagging other people who worked on the project as well. This action does two things. First, the people you are tagging will see it and now have the opportunity to comment or share. Second, this gives you stronger SEO when your page is shared or commented on. This will help drive traffic to your site or page on LinkedIn.
5. Write a testimonial or referral for others.
The best and easiest way to get your clients or colleagues to write you a great reference is if you write one for them before they ever even ask. Take the time to write a well thought out review of each and every person that you worked with. Be sure to highlight their skills and any specific achievements they had on the project.
If you are connected with them on LinkedIn (and you should be) send them your reference review via LinkedIn. They will have to approve it first, of course, but who wouldn’t want to have such an amazing testimonial on their profile?
Most people will naturally want to return the favor. If they don’t, when the time is right, send them a note asking them to write you a reference regarding the time you worked together. To help urge them along be sure to tell them specifically why you are asking. Tell them you are applying for another project that requires the skills you used on that first project or that you are looking to update your profile with the latest jobs you’ve worked on.
You got this!
By following these steps you will be connecting with a talented group of creatives and you will be helping to promote them and the project you all worked on. Not only that, you will also be refreshing your own profile. Congratulations! These efforts should help you become more memorable and in demand by people in your industry.