Stay social, freelancers

As freelancers, we all tend to get caught up in the projects we’re working on. We want to focus solely on the work at hand and keep our clients happy so they keep coming back for more.

The danger of that, however, is not keeping up with your online profiles. No matter how busy you are, you should always take time out to visit important social media sites. If you’re working on a noteworthy project or if you’re freelancing for a new company, tell people about it!

I did just that this week, updating my LinkedIn profile to reflect my current freelance writing work at Marketing Works, a New York area PR/Marketing firm. Once I did that, I received several kudos from my LinkedIn connections, and best of all, I came up with new leads for additional freelance work. Even the slightest tweak to your profile will get noticed fast.

And while you’re at it, take a quick Facebook or Twitter break to schmooze with old contacts because you never know when they’ll become a new source of potential work. Twitter even has hashtags #jobs or #freelancer #jobs which can be useful as well. LinkedIn has frequent job listings also, and after updating its mobile app, the postings are much more handy and accessible.

In short, stay visible at all times. Think bigger picture and there’s a great chance you’ll line up your next freelance gig!

The 3 C’s Every Freelancer Needs to Follow

Freelance life can be isolating at times, especially if you tend to work from home like I do. The solution: to stay as connected as possible.

Connectivity is critical when you’re trying to maintain steady work. No longer can you only rely on word-of-mouth and your tried-and-true clients or production companies who have always called you for work. Budgets are shrinking. No one is spending money like they used to. So it’s up to us as freelancers to build new relationships.

That’s where social media comes into play, helping us foster a sense of community where we can network, share knowledge and create conversations.

Sure, everyone and his brother are on Facebook but let’s face it, the majority of reasons why people are on there are to coo over their kids or brag about the wonderful meals they’re eating or the new cars they’re driving. In other words, Facebook is more for personal use.

If you want to create a sense of community with people in your field, Twitter and LinkedIn are the way to go, hands down. On LinkedIn, you can even join groups specific to your line of work. But I’m sure many of you know that already.

As for Twitter, I am amazed how many freelancers I encounter who are still unsure about how to take advantage of the popular social media tool. I suppose the problem might be that many feel it’s a tool for celebrities to boast about their latest projects or to incite feuds (such as the recent one between Kanye West and Jimmy Kimmel; the two have kissed and made up since then). Or perhaps people feel stifled since there’s a 140 character limit. Whatever the reason, people need to start using Twitter more.

I use it to link to articles I’ve written or to promote an event I’m covering. I also live tweet during conferences or television programs – any instance where my commentary might grab the attention of someone influential. In some cases, you may even get a re-tweet! Just don’t forget those hash tags so you can be a part of trending conversations.

While on the subject of Twitter, I have to give a shout out to The IC Crowd in London: Rachel Miller, Jenni Wheller and Dana Leeson are three lovely ladies who work in internal communication. They started The IC Crowd as a way to connect others who work in the field; much of the conversations they create occur on Twitter (and will soon continue on Google+). Since launching The IC Crowd a little over a year ago, Miller, Wheller and Leeson have worked to move the online conversations offline, hosting a Xmas drinks networking function as well as an unconference.

On this side of the pond, the Freelancers Union (headquartered in Brooklyn), often helps freelancers connect via networking events and other helpful resources.

So if you have connectivity and a sense of community with your peers, there’s a good chance collaboration will follow – the final C that you need to be aware of. With increased online exposure and regular networking, you’ll be able to stay up-to-date on who’s working on what and whether or not there might be an opportunity for you to contribute to a new project.

And of course, dropping some emails to your existing network of contacts never hurts either!

Words no job seeker wants to hear…and how to cope

Whether we’re seeking staff or freelance work, we all have to hunt. This means perusing sites like craigslist, mandy.com, monster, indeed, SimplyHired, LinkedIn and others.┬áIf you’re lucky, your cover letter and resume will stand out just enough to get that coveted phone call for a face-to-face interview (and trust me, that’s no easy feat these days).

So you meet with the hiring manager, have a great 25-minute chat and then you’re on your way. A few hours later, you send the courtesy email thanking him/her for their time so you remain fresh in their mind. And then you wait.

Being a native New Yorker, patience is not my best trait. I want something and I want it now! Unfortunately, that can’t always be the case (though you can get a mean grilled cheese at 3am at the local diner).

When it comes to seeking work (no matter what your profession is), you are at the mercy of employers. That’s just the way it is. The bright side is that as a freelancer, you automatically grow the ability to develop a thick skin. With that, comes the ability to identify all the typical catch phrases you hear when you don’t land a job:

“Thanks for your interest in the position, but we’ve decided to move in a new direction with it.” (North? South? East? West?)

“We’ll keep you in mind for future opportunities.” (That is, if we don’t wind up going with someone we already know!)

“We’ll be sure to keep your resume on file.” (Along with the 350 other CVs in our filing cabinet).

Bottom line: being turned down for a gig sucks. Especially after you’ve made the effort to dry clean your suit, prepare a portfolio and endure an hour-and-ten minute commute on two crowded subway trains.

When that happens, it’s important to keep your chin up. Allow yourself one hour of moping time, one or two phone calls to vent to friends, even a half-hour of mindless television to get your mind off the disappointment. Then, it’s time to get back on that horse and start all over again the next day.