A common question of those who are self-employed, and a common concern for those thinking about becoming self-employed is, “How do you find new business?” Here's how: You go out and look (and ask) for it. Ever heard of “Seek and you shall find; Ask and it will be given to you...”? There's truth in them thar words.
Really. It's true. But I sense that you don't quite believe me. You're thinking to yourself, "Oh come on, Mark! It's not that easy!". Easy? Maybe...maybe not. But Simple? Yes, most definitely! You might get some leads on projects by browsing your favorite job listing web site. Or maybe you've decided to hook your wagon to a staff augmentation (a.k.a. temp, or contracting) company. But if you really want to take your future into your own hands, then get off your butt, step away from the keyboard, and get out of your house. Go meet some new people!
Despite all the great advancements in technology, business is still conducted between people. Most contracts are given to people with whom the client company is familiar. Oh sure, there's still the chance that you'll get picked off of the approved vendors list, or by responding to a Request for Proposal, but NOTHING beats a personal referral. Period. Full Stop. Nothing.
So how do you get a personal referral? By personally meeting people? Where do you meet people? Wherever people are, which is to say, not in front of your TV or PC. Yeah, I know that sounds vague, but it's really that simple. But you HAVE TO develop the knack of striking up a conversation with people you don't already know. OK, I'll take pity on you. Here's a suggestion. Find a group of people that do something that you like to do (other than sitting on the computer IMing each other). It doesn't really matter if it's a bowling league or a SIG (special interest group). Maybe you want to find a local chapter of PASS and attend their meetings. Or whatever group. It doesn't have to be technical. Yes, job/contract opportunities discussed at technical meetings are more likely to be technical, but there's also more competition there. But hey, the guys and gals on the bowling teams just might work for a company, and somewhere in that company somebody might use a computer and they might need help with it. You can make contacts anywhere. But a HUGE mistake that tech people tend to make is to hide behind their computer screens, hoping that the work will find them instead of going out and meeting the people, and finding the work. And remember, just because you get out and are surrounded by people, nothing happens until you open your mouth and strike up a conversation.
That's what I did tonight by going to a weblogger's meetup tonight. Here is a list of folks that were there. Only a few of them were tech people professionally (even Scoble has been known to show up, although he wasn't able to make it tonight), but I had a great time, made some new acquaintances, and you never know what will come up. I was ready with my business card, and just for good measure, since we were in a nice casual coffeehouse atmosphere, I wore my SQLTeam baseball cap, knowing that people would remember that and be able to find me here if they wanted to contact me. I collected a couple of business cards, one in particular I'm going to follow up on because I've been looking for someone to talk to about corporate logos and brand identity, and guess what? One of the people there works for a company that does that. They'll at least get a shot at my business, and even have the inside track because I met a person that was nice and now there's a small connection between my company and theirs. Hey, whaddya know? It works just like I said!
Now go do it yourself.
posted @ Wednesday, February 18, 2004 11:03 PM