US Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta recently withdrew two Obama administration legal opinions that expanded protection for workers. As reported by the Post Bulletin, these changes could allow companies to classify more workers as freelancers instead of employees. As a result, employers will now have greater flexibility in hiring IT freelancers, who usually cost less to hire than employees.
If you are an IT freelancer or thinking about becoming one, this could be an opportunity for you to land more gigs – if you prepare now. Here are four ways you can position yourself to land more freelance contract work.
1. Cultivate Your Personal Brand and Sell Your Skills
First, take stock of your skill set. Identify your core strengths and be ready to talk about them. Don't forget your non-IT skills, either. Those can be just as important when it comes to winning and retaining clients.
"As a freelancer, it's critical that you identify a personal brand to differentiate yourself from other freelancers who have similar credentials," says
Kelly Donovan (@kellydonovan),
principal of the job search solutions firm
Kelly Donovan & Associates. "Having 'hard skills' that are in demand, like knowing specific languages and platforms, is important, but it's also important that you convey your 'soft skills,' like your teamwork skills, problem-solving aptitude, and communication abilities."
Donovan says it's often your soft skills that give you an edge over other IT freelancers. She also recommends asking former bosses or clients to provide LinkedIn recommendations to further highlight your strengths.
2. Sharpen Your Networking Skills
You can also score new clients by attending networking events (check out "14 Questions That Will Make You a Networking Rock Star" for actionable tips). These gatherings tend to be informal and less stressful than, say, making 50 cold calls in a row. Plus, depending on the type of events you go to, you may have the advantage of being the only person in the room working in your industry.
"One sales / networking tactic that's worked well for me is to go to semi-related events and Meetups," says
Steve Morgan (@steviephil),
freelance SEO consultant at
Morgan Online Marketing.
"For example, I'm an SEO freelancer, and while it's good to go to SEO events and Meetups, what works really well is if I go to blogger meetups, web development meetups, social media marketing Meetups, etc. I might be the only SEO in attendance, in a room with people who don't know any SEOs. So, if they need any SEO help or know anyone who does, than they may very well keep me in mind when the time comes."
If you've gone to these events in the past, you may have a stack of business cards collecting dust from people you met once and never spoke to again. That changes now. Pick up each card and reach out to every person. But don't try to sell. Simply re-introduce yourself and talk briefly about what you do.
"A very, very simple networking strategy is to keep a contact list of companies you know and people you've met in business," says
Beth Bridges (@BethBridges),
The Networking Motivator and
of Networking on Purpose. "Reach out and introduce yourself as an IT and technology expert. Ask them if they'd like you to update them every once in a while on technology trends and IT news. Send them an email once or twice a month with thoughtful, useful commentary on IT and tech. When they need someone, of course, you will be their go-to person."
If networking is hard for you, consider working with a professional sales coach. "Tech Business Owners: When It’s Time to Consider a Sales Coach" offers some pointers.
3. Go on Tour
Another strategy is to ask people to meet for a cup of coffee so you can pick their brain. Don't make it about trying to sign them as a client. Just ask if you can take them out to ask a few questions – and then just listen. This is what
founder & CEO of
Mavens & Moguls, calls a "listening tour."
"Make a list of the movers and shakers, people you admire, and prospects," says Arnof-Fenn. "Ask a few smart, open-ended questions, then sit back and take notice. If you listen to what they share with you, there will be plenty of opportunities to help them. I did it when business slowed and picked up several new clients but you can do it any time. It is a great way to connect and a lot of fun too."
This can often be an approach that doesn't result in clients right off the bat, but ultimately pays off in the long run.
4. Get Social
Your website should be up to date and highlight your most recent work. Additionally, you want to have a strong social media presence. You don't need to be on every platform, but make sure you have an active presence on:
"Social media is the secret ingredient to generate new leads and traffic for your freelance business," says
Bradley Shaw (@ExpertBrad),
SEO Expert Brad Inc.
"By building a strong social media presence, keeping your accounts up to date, posting and interacting frequently, and using it for self-branding, you can market yourself above your competitors. Be active, focus on networking, and share useful content."
Freelancers can also take advantage of Google My Business. This allows small businesses to create a free listing and manage how their business appears in Google search. You can also interact with any customers who leave you a review.
Discover more ways to promote yourself online. Check out "Help Your Dream Clients Find You: The Power of Online Marketing."
About the Contributors
is the founder and CEO of global marketing firm Mavens & Moguls
, based in Cambridge, MA. Clients include Microsoft, Virgin, venture-backed startups, as well as nonprofit organizations. Paige graduated from Stanford University and Harvard Business School and is a popular speaker and columnist who has written for Entrepreneur and Forbes.
Beth Bridges is The Networking Motivator
and author of Networking on Purpose: A Five-Part Networking Success Plan to Build a Powerful & Profitable Business Network. She wrote the book after attending over 2,500 networking events in 10 years. She speaks to chambers of commerce and associations across North America to share her strategies and teach networking skills.
, principal of Kelly Donovan & Associates
, is a certified professional resume writer and job search strategist who works with executive job seekers throughout the United States. She was a contributor to Resumes for Dummies
, 7th Ed. (Wiley, 2015) and two other books, and her career advice has been featured by Fast Company, Monster.com, the Detroit Free Press, and other media and websites.
Steve Morgan is a freelance SEO consultant trading as Morgan Online Marketing. Based in Cardiff, South Wales, UK, Steve works with a mix of small businesses and household name clients. Steve also writes about SEO on his blog, SEOno.
is a digital marketing specialist who has been perfecting his craft since 1997. Yes, that is before Google even existed. When he is not helping businesses grow their online presence, he enjoys traveling and the outdoors. He is currently the president of SEO Expert Brad Inc.
based out of Addison, TX.