As a freelance professional, you generally specialize across a couple of key areas of expertise, or at least focus on one main area of expertise as part of your service offering. Because this can be limiting in terms of the number of projects you can realistically tender for, many freelancers are now choosing to build sizable teams of multi-skilled freelancers so they’re able to bid on larger, more profitable freelance jobs.
Although these teams are managed via a single point of contact, each team dynamic starts via a different point of contact at the time a tender goes to market, meaning that if you can build a strong network of contacts, you have every chance that you’re going to either be included in someone else’s project tender, or will be able to bid on a tender yourself given your available resources.
This process of working is one you can build upon starting at your local coworking space. Because you’re likely to find numerous other freelance workers and tech entrepreneurs like yourself in a coworking space, you have a great chance to develop those interactions into potential future team members, with a succinct set of skills you can draw on for future projects. To help you begin to develop your network of freelance subcontractors, here are some helpful tips to keep in mind next time you visit a coworking space.
Ensure you present well (in person and online)
Because you’re going to be developing your business network, you’re going to want to impress subcontractors so they’re going to want to work with you. This means you need to have a strong portfolio of work to show, a website which showcases your portfolio, business cards, and you need to present well and demonstrate that you can bring in the business and manage projects effectively.
This of course does not mean that you go to coworking spaces to effectively sell your services and leave, it means that when an opportunity arises where you meet someone with a strong skills set, and you feel they could be an asset to you or visa versa, then you need to be prepared. You need to ensure you show that you’re a talented freelancer with a well-structured and thriving freelance business that any freelancer would want to be a part of. By doing so, you’re network will be constantly thinking of ways they can include you and your skills set into their projects, which means they’re basically working for you!
Choose your network wisely
One of the beauties of working and spending time in a coworking space is getting to meet people face-to-face. Because so much freelance interaction is done online these days, this is a great way for you to determine not only if someone is a talented and reliable freelancer, but also whether they’re someone who you can work with on projects if required to do so.
In a coworking space, there’s no hiding behind your computer, you’re in an environment where those around you can and most likely will make an assessment of you and your expertise, and therefore there is no reason why you shouldn’t do the same. Visit your local coworking space to work, but also to network. By ensuring you take up the opportunity to make a proper assessment of those around you, you can really make some powerful connections that may be difficult to match purely online.
Don’t be afraid to reject work requests
Just because you met someone in a coworking space and seemed to get along with him or her, does not mean they’re the right fit to involve in your freelance business, especially if they’re subcontracting you. Ask yourself whether they’re capable of managing a project effectively; meeting your payment terms, and delivering work that will complement yours. There’s nothing worse than being tied to a project that has a number of weak links that bring your work down and causes you nothing but stress. Ensure you don’t just accept any offer for work from someone you meet, whether it’s in a coworking space or not. Make it clear that you consider all opportunities for work, but politely decline if you sense trouble-a-foot.
Don’t limit your subcontracting network
You may be a really great web developer who already knows a bunch of really great graphic designers you can rely on to help you out on projects which require that skill set, but don’t ever pass on an opportunity to network with another graphic designer or professional you already have an abundance of in your professional network. Why? Because you never know when the favor will be returned and a given freelancer will request your expertise on a project.
One of the best ways to ensure you do receive follow up work in this or any other instance is to email the contact the next day with a simple message mentioning how nice it was to meet them, and how you look forward to any opportunities to work together in the future if that’s what you discussed. Choose your words wisely in this instance so as to avoid sounding fake. However it’s amazing how taking just 5 minutes to send a quick email will stick in someone’s mind, prompting them to think of you when they need to utilize a skills set just like yours.
Coworking spaces are great opportunity for you to meet, assess and build working relationships with talented freelance contractors; however you need to be ready for the interaction. Ready yourself with a strong portfolio of work, business cards, and present well in person so as to ensure you’re someone they will want to work with also. It’s not all about you and your needs, it’s a two way street. So make sure you put your best foot forward when working in a coworking space and you’ll be surprised how rapidly you can grow your professional network and bottom line.