What is the best way to get work as a freelancer? Two words: strategic alliances.
Think about who you’d like to work with and spend time helping them first, promoting their products and referring them business. Do a good job of that and the companies or experts you’d like to form alliances with will soon find out who you are. Then, often, they’ll reach out to you. It’s about the relationships you form—and keep up.
Michael Port, a leading expert on marketing freelance services, has advice on building these strategic alliances, aka valuable business connections. He recommends this simple three-step formula:
1. Stop going it alone.
I don’t do anything by myself anymore. When it comes to business, all of my work involves other people. That doesn’t mean just people who work for me; it means collaborative partners, too. All of my books are supported by other people who write books—just like I support them when they have a new book out.
I have people who send me business, just like I send them business. I will often put on events, retreats, programs with my colleagues who might seem, to the public, like competitors. In fact, I think we can do a lot more together than we can alone.
2. By taking solo out of solopreneur.
You isolate yourself when you think of yourself as a sole practitioner or a soloprenuer. The fact is, in large part, our value in the market is based on our relationships.
I have this concept called The Network of 90. The idea is you really don’t need more than 90 people in your network to get the word out about your services. Even 90 is probably more than you need. And I actually say keep it under 90 because it’s better to have a lot of good, strong relationships with people who can send you business and open doors for you than a higher number of loose relationships with people who you don’t feel like you can ask for a favor or an introduction.
Here’s what I suggest you do each day with the people in your Network of 90: These can be people who you know or don’t yet know well, but you’re getting to know them better and you want to develop deeper relationships with them. Reach out to two of these people in your network each day who do not yet know each other but might find each other relevant in some way and make an introduction. You might say, “Hey, Bob, I want you to meet Steve. Steve, meet Bob. Bob is wonderful at creating joint ventures. Steve is really great at closing sales in a non-pressured way. You guys overlap in a lot of ways, and I thought you might like to meet each other.”
It’s all about being of service to others…
3. And sharing information with them every day.
Another thing I suggest doing each day is sharing some information that is relevant with at least one or two people in your network. This is not something that you created or something that you know, but something that you’ve read or a video you’ve come across that is specifically related to something of interest to them or related to their work.
Let’s say I know a woman who is an engineer and I see an article in The New York Times about the new world of engineering that I think is very interesting. I’ll send her an email and say, “I just saw this article and immediately thought of you because you’re involved with that new engineering project. Have you seen it? If not, here’s the link. What do you think?” Now we can get her into a conversation around something that’s relevant to her, not relevant to me. That’s what’s important.
If you do these things five days a week with five people, that’s 25 people that you’re keeping in touch with each week. Then, if you do this for a full month, that’s 100 people. There’s your Network of 90 and a very wonderful, connected, generous way of keeping in touch with people.
Staying in touch and developing deeper relationships with people is the key to building strategic alliances. When you might need something, when you want to ask a favor, the door will be open to you because you opened it for them first.
Bob Serling helps business owners and entrepreneurs increase their profits. Get his free eBook to discover 42 ways to double your profits at ProfitAlchemy.com.
Michael Port is a New York Timesbest-selling author of six books including Book Yourself Solid and Steal the Show. For 50 tips you can’t afford to ignore if you want to win praise and plaudits every time you speak in public, go to www.HeroicPublicSpeaking.com.