Just because you work from home doesn’t mean you have to be an outcast in your own community. Not only does getting out of the house give you a much-needed social boost—seriously, all work and no play just leads to the dreaded Stephen King situation—but it can also make you a better businessman and score you new freelance clients. . own yard (Maybe not literally.)
Here are four ways to invest in your local business community and find freelance gigs along the way:
1. Join your local chamber of commerce
As a freelancer in business for yourself, you are eligible to join your local Chamber of Commerce – and this can be a very smart move! Chamber of Commerce membership helps establish you as a credible local business and instantly connects you to your local business community. You’ll be listed as a member on the Chamber of Commerce website, increasing your visibility, and you’ll have the option to attend any number of local events, from business workshops to social mixers to neighborhood conventions.
Depending on what type of freelance services you provide, contacting other small business members of the Chamber of Commerce may land you some clients. Whether you design killer websites or provide sensational ad copy or manage social media, chances are one of those small business owners needs your help to level up their business – for your mutual benefit.
One potential drawback to joining your local chamber of commerce is the cost: Depending on where you live, membership can be expensive. The good news is that some chambers charge dues on a sliding scale and the cost can be based on how much annual revenue your business generates or how many employees you have. So check before you decide you probably can’t afford it!
2. Attend local meetups and networking events
Business meetups are happening all the time, people communicating and building productive relationships – to tap into these, you just need to know they’re there. And then prepare and actually attend, of course! As I mentioned above, your local chamber of commerce is a great source for discovering networking events. You can also find these types of events through social media (like “Boston Freelancers” or “Facebook groups for Atlanta web designers and such”) or a site like to meetWhich can connect you to various interest group meetings around your city.
To get some benefit from these events, you need to make sure that you are prepared. Do your homework to find out who’s attending – you can usually find a list of attendees on Meetup, or talking to independent event organizers can give you some ideas. You should plan to appear in professional attire – at least business casual – with business cards in hand. Practice introducing and apologizing yourself, and actively listening to everyone you meet – taking note of their needs, personal details and other demographics you may be able to take advantage of at gigs. When you identify an opportunity, don’t hesitate to offer your services; What are you doing there!
3. Join a referral group
Have you heard of referral groups? These are select, small organizations that focus on helping their fellow members generate referral business rather than just generating leads. By becoming a member of one, you’re building trust with a group of local professionals who will work on your behalf to recruit your customers. You must do the same for them – so when you hear that someone needs an interior designer, you recommend they contact someone in your referral network. When a friend of yours needs taxes, you recommend an accountant member of the group, etc.
The biggest disadvantage of local referral groups is their strength – they can be highly selective with limited membership. This may be to ensure that the members are not competing against each other – you don’t want two landscape architects to spend on each other’s business. Often this means there’s only enough room for one professional in any given industry, although you can find groups in bigger cities with more relaxed rules for freelancers – after all, there’s often more than enough freelance writing, web design and social media management gigs to go around. . You may find that you often have to request membership and wait for an invitation. Don’t let that stop you from asking though! They can’t say the worst, and the business potential outweighs the energy cost of the request.
4. Offer local training classes for small businesses
Here’s the thing: Small business owners are almost always looking for ways to improve themselves and how they do business. You should know – you’re probably a small business owner yourself, and reading this article! When you’re a freelancer who works from home, you have the unique opportunity to give your local businesses a chance to promote themselves and position yourself to recruit them as customers.
Here’s what you do: Take your freelancing specialty and package it as a short-term local class that you hold in your home (or local community center) or online with optional in-person meetups. If you write blog posts, offer to teach businesses how to start their own blogs or what it takes to make a popular post. If you’re a marketer, show them how to create more effective marketing or even offer a rebranding course. When they are working with you in these classes, they are seeing you in action – how knowledgeable and experienced you are. Half of your students may decide it’s easier to hire you than to maintain their blog or handle their marketing themselves! And if they don’t, you’re still building this positive business relationship that can bring you referral business later.
These local opportunities to network and build a client base are easy to find, as long as you know where and how to look! With these four strategies in hand, you’ll be a regular fixture on your local business scene in no time. Drop me a line about how they worked for you – I appreciate hearing about my readers’ experiences and look forward to your success!