Freelancers aren’t really competing with anyone. Whether you’re a freelancer or work in a communications role at a company or agency, freelancers are your allies, confidantes, mentors, cheerleaders, and gateways to growth and new business. Yet sometimes they’re viewed as the competition, especially if a potential new client is evaluating proposals from several service providers. Sure, when the client is making a decision on where to invest their dollars in a communications program, they’re creating a competitive environment. Yet even in those situations, freelancers aren’t the competition. Here’s why.
Why Other Freelancers and Agencies Are Not Competitors
The client is going to choose the right match for their business. Not winning simply means the candidate isn’t the right fit, which frees them to find other clients that are more aligned with what they offer. Those “right fit” clients are always more profitable to the communications pro or team because they’re more likely to result in longer-term relationships and referrals. Also, when you consider how many opportunities exist for freelancers, you realize that not every prospect should be viewed as make-or-break for your business.
5 Benefits of Collaborating with Other Freelancers
As a freelancer, being your own boss certainly has lots of perks. Still, working solely on your own has its downsides. With this in mind, here are five reasons why it’s important for freelancers to network and collaborate with other freelancers.
1. Get industry insight
It can be hard to keep up with industry shifts when you’re not constantly getting updates from office colleagues or receiving agency-wide emails telling you about who’s looking for last minute speakers, which publications have posted new writer’s guidelines, and which journalists are now covering a new beat. When you have an active network that consists of freelancers and colleagues working in agencies or companies, you’re more plugged in to what’s happening in the industry. This allows you to better serve your clients.
2. Grow your business
When you team with other freelancers, you can pursue larger pieces of business. From the client’s perspective, it’s compelling to consider a team of senior counselors that are also able to execute tactics without having to invest in office space or the learning curves of junior staff.
3. Freelancers offer a back-up plan
One of the downsides of self-employment is not always being able to take time off or easily unplug. When you have a stable of freelance resources that are also experts in high tech, you can take a vacation without worrying about losing the client or missing goals.
4. Get reality checks
Other freelancers are a great resource for reality checks. It’s critical to have a handful of trusted confidantes that you can talk to about new business, client challenges, the state of the industry, etc. This becomes even more important if you’re working solo on all of your clients
5. Sharpen your skills
Surrounding yourself with freelancers that have complementary skills, as well as strengths that you’re trying to develop, is key to building and growing your business. Just be sure that you’re also bringing something to the table that benefits them.
Building Your Freelancer Inner Circle
Creating a wider inner circle can take time because you want to make sure you’re a good match and can learn from each other. You don’t have to be BFFs with every freelancer you meet, but it is important to continuously expand your network. You can find your tribe in lots of places including former colleagues at your last job, agency alumni pages on Facebook, freelance networks on LinkedIn and Facebook, industry events, etc. And don’t be shy about asking other freelancers for introductions.
When all communications pros share knowledge, tips, and referrals, everybody wins. Some might think that sharing too much information about your clients puts you at risk for someone encroaching on your turf. This isn’t likely — especially when you’re actively engaging and helping each other. Not to mention that smart communications pros aren’t going to risk their reputations. Remember, there’s enough work for everybody. If you go out of your way to share information and knowledge, and listen and learn, you’ll get back more than your investment with a steady stream of great projects and new connections.