It’s no secret that social is good for networking.
It connects a wide variety of people on a daily basis, and can be especially effective in connecting freelancers and entrepreneurs with new business opportunities. In fact, networks like LinkedIn and Facebook are beginning to change the way companies both big and small recruit talent.
Improve Your Social Profiles
As any freelancer knows, time is money. This is often why the majority of freelancers don’t have hours to spend marketing themselves on social media.
Given that time is such a precise resource, freelancers need to know the most effective ways to use social media to generate leads and land valuable new clients. A successful social media marketing strategy will take time, as it requires publishing great content and forming genuine relationships, but it can also pay off in exciting ways.
The most important thing to remember is that social media requires a human touch when trying to reap the most benefits from it – this means that all-automated or all-scheduled activity isn’t going to cut it.
Each social network has its own unique ecosystem, etiquette and best practices for making connections. The tips below break strategies down network by network.
Some freelancers may not feel comfortable reaching out on Facebook, as it is mainly thought of as a platform for more personal communications and connections.
However, it is precisely this that makes Facebook a powerful platform on which to generate new business. As a freelancer, you can easily connect with your old college or school friends that have went on to work in industries complementary to your own.
These connections can result in new work, possibly for both of you.
Leveraging personal connections is a great way to tap into new business opportunities or find potential clients. After all, friends and family are more willing to help you as a freelancer than a stranger might be.
Don’t be shy when it comes to Facebook.
Share work samples and let it be known that business tips would be much appreciated. Also consider starting a Facebook business page to separate personal social activities from business.
Share this business page on personal profiles and have friends and family do the same. As the page spreads throughout the immediate network potential clients will start to get in touch.
Remember to be respectful and don’t spam. No one wants to login to Facebook and see their newsfeed filled with business posts. Make the page engaging and useful – share tips, relevant industry news, and anything else that prospective clients would find value in.
There are a few strategies that freelancers can employ on Twitter when it comes to sourcing new clients.
As a freelancer can actively look for work by searching for relevant keywords and finding businesses that need your services. You can also follow brand or company accounts, then follow the people that work for the company.
By actively tweeting and having conversations with these people through Twitter, you build a relationship with the company, establish yourself as a knowledgeable industry professional, and set the stage for possible future projects. The most important thing on Twitter is to share really great content that followers are interested in.
A best practice is to tweet regularly and share insights both about being a freelancer and the related industry. Engagement is the lifeblood of any successful Twitter campaign.
Your followers may not be directly looking to hire someone themselves, but they may know someone else who is. Twitter can be a great source of referrals and new leads.
One of the strongest avenues that freelancers can leverage on LinkedIn are the Groups.
By actively participating in LinkedIn groups, you can establish yourself as an industry leader and make connections with people that could benefit from her knowledge. Being active in groups means sharing valued resources, starting conversations, and frequently asking and answering questions. Frequent, high-quality contributions to LinkedIn groups are noticed and appreciated.
You can easily demonstrate your personal expertise through strategic group interactions, and can generate new leads by monitoring conversations and offering assistance. You can encourage other group members to get in touch with you with questions or to start a conversation on something you are knowledgeable about.
This leads the contact into the “sales funnel” and starts a relationship that could lead to new business.
LinkedIn groups are a great way for freelancers to learn more about their potential clients, start conversations, and build awareness of their services. When new opportunities arise, you are already positioned as a trusted, credible resource and conversations can move to the next step, such as a phone call or email.
One of the golden rules of effective social media lead generation is simple, and yet many people don’t follow it:
Every freelancer wants to sell themselves and their services, but it’s important to remember that nobody actually wants to be sold to (particularly in LinkedIn groups).
Instead of going for the hard sell, be a resource. Don’t think of group interactions in terms of what can be gained from them. Approach these conversations from the angle of, “How can I help? What can I offer?”
In terms of finding new freelance clients, Google+ works similarly to LinkedIn groups. Join Google+ Communities and begin interacting with other members.
Remember, this isn’t about making a sale. Google+ Communities are about making connections with new people and becoming valuable to them as an industry leader. Become a “go to” source of accurate, relevant information and have a pleasant online personality. No one wants to do business with someone they see acting like a jerk online.
The first thing you need as a freelancer on Google+ is a great profile. A profile is the first impression a potential client will have, so it needs to be a good one. Profiles should be client-focused. Weave personality and knowledge into every line. Be relatable.
Put up a real picture as a profile image, not a generic image pulled from a search engine or the blank default avatar. Once the profile has been optimized, it’s important to start going where the clients go. Search for keywords and choose the right groups to join on Google+. Joining the “wrong” group can mean hours of wasted networking time and zero new business leads.
For example, don’t join groups for freelance writers (or at least don’t spend too much time/effort on them).
Freelancers usually won’t be looking to hire other freelancers, right?
Instead focus efforts on joining industry groups where potential clients will be plentiful. Post in these groups often and solve members’ problems. Also remember to preview a group’s posts before joining.
Is it quality content and real discussions, or is it filled with tons of spam links? Don’t get lost in the group shuffle.
Everyone knows that Pinterest’s strongest point is how visual it is.
Freelancers can take advantage of this by visually representing their work history or showcasing work examples. This is obviously quite effective for designers, but other freelance professionals can take advantage of this as well and use the site to host their portfolios.
For example, a freelance virtual assistant can create, maintain, and share a pinboard of articles or infographics related to how having a virtual assistant can help small businesses grow.
Showcase the “success stories” within an industry. As the third largest social media platform online, Pinterest is growing in importance for freelancers. When marketing on Pinterest, it’s crucial to include visually interesting content (since that’s the entire point of the site, after all).
It is also important for you to attach their website address to pins to ensure that potential clients can find them online. You can do this by including the web address in the pin caption, or by posting the image and content on their website and using the Pin It button.
When creating images for content that is intended for Pinterest, it can also be beneficial for you to add a watermark to the image to guarantee that the content can be traced back to you and potential clients know how to get in touch. Pinterest is also great for reinforcing your brand as a freelancer.
By maintaining boards that are not specifically about work or the industry, you can showcase your personality and give clients a glimpse at who you really are. These boards have the potential to make clients think, “Yes, I’d like to work with this person.”
Finding new freelance clients through social media is not impossible. Freelancers who simply use social media because “that’s what you’re supposed to do” aren’t getting the full value of these sites. Like most things in freelance work, social media requires some hustle, dedication, and business strategy.
Social networks are powerful resources for enhancing outreach activities and connecting with important decision makers in almost any industry. Don’t just sit idly by. As a freelancer you need to actively jump on these networking opportunities when they present themselves.
With time and patience any freelancer can turn a social media profile into a lead source.
Jane blogs at Savvy Blogging Tips where she shares brutally honest blogging tips. If you are wondering whether you can really make money online, grab her free report right now!