We’re constantly reminded that social media is a ‘must’ for a business of any size but, although it sounds easy enough, it can be quite tricky to get started, especially when there are so many people doing the same thing. So we’ve put together some top tips on how you can increase your chances of finding work through social media.
Search for new client leads
Google +, LinkedIn and Twitter all allow you to search by both location and keywords. For example, a quick search for ‘Freelance Designer’ on Twitter comes up with the top results for those terms (see image), instantly providing you with a list of contacts that could be in need of your services and potentially could end up becoming retained clients.
Your introduction online is like your cover letter. Keep it short, informative, relevant and interesting. Avoid sending out a standardised message, particularly on LinkedIn. Another good idea is to reference the recipient and try to provoke a response. A conversational tone can go a lot further in social media than a formal approach!
Recommendation through word of mouth has always been an important source of new business for freelancers and contractors and social media has made this a whole lot easier. A client mentioning you or your business on LinkedIn in response to a friend’s plea for help with a project, for example, is akin to them mentioning you in person or over the phone, but it has the added advantage of all of their connections seeing it too.
Maintain and build relationships
You’ve probably lost count of the number of times that your emails were apparently “lost” in the ether, or calls where someone couldn’t get through to you. Chances are, unless you’re best friends, you’re not going to make small talk between projects. The ‘social’ nature of sites like Facebook and Twitter means that, whether it’s a quick hello or a business query, people are more likely to respond. Make the character limitations work in your favour – a 140 character message can be a lot more effective than a lengthy email where you’re detailing every bit of experience you’ve had and why someone should hire you.
Be part of the community
Becoming a regular contributor to groups and conversations on social media can help you establish yourself as an authority in your area. Look out for Twitter conversations (which usually use hashtags) that encourage businesses to make introductions and recommendations. Introduce yourself and meet potential clients; there are often offline events, which are created from these groups, so keep an eye out for meet-ups as well. Regular attendance to offline meet-ups can also benefit you, as people will begin to recognise you.
Make sure you’re on the relevant social networks
There are, what seems to be, an infinite number of social networks out there. So which ones do you need to be on? Well, LinkedIn is the obvious one if you’re looking to make business connections, so if you had to choose one site to be on, we’d recommend that this is it. Twitter, as demonstrated above, is very handy for being able to search for relevant terms. People on Twitter tend to share updates more frequently than on any other site, so it’s handy to be on here in order to try and keep up with anything. This is relevant not only for looking for potential clients, but also to make sure you’re on top of everything that’s going on in your industry. Facebook is a good way to let people know about your business. Setting up a Facebook page gives people a place where they can post enquiries or leads and also gives them somewhere that they can send friends and contacts to.