Did you catch up with your clients recently? Now might be the time.

Struggling to sell yourself? There's an easier way to get clients and recommendations
Written by Fanny Marcoux
Freelancing can feel like a roller-coaster. We can get squeezed like lemons under the pressure from many projects. Other times we can have too much free time, to the point where it feels scary.

These periods of downtime (often in summer and at the end of the year) can be used to prepare for the future. So how can we, as freelancers, plan more work in advance and spread out our load throughout the year?
Catch up with your network
One way to do this is to contact your network directly and regularly.

What is your network? It is your previous and current:

1. clients
2. colleagues
3. providers
4. peers

Basically, anyone you have worked with during the last year. It's easier to work with previous clients and people who already know you. They are familiar with who you are, how you work and what services you offer.
What to write…
But we're all busy, and so are your clients. They have so many things to deal with and you're not their first priority. So you need to remind them you're here.

For that, keep it simple and short. Just email or message them on social media. If they don't reply, follow up with a second message about a week later. Remember, they're busy, so they might not have had the time to answer, or have just forgotten.

Your message could be divided into 4 parts:
1. ask how they're doing
2. ask how the project on which you worked together is doing
3. remind them of the services you offer
4. tell them when you're available

This is not a sales email, it's more like a coffee break invitation - only write a tiny bit about you, and write tons about them. For example, when you ask how they are or their project is doing, you can remind them of the context or the last update you heard of.

The whole message should be around 6 sentences long.
... and when to write it
Yes, we want more work. But we don't want it all at the same time. You'll only get squeezed between deadlines and overwhelmed by stress. That's no condition to do great work, or enjoy it. We want to spread the load over time. And for that, timing is important. There are two key times to contact your network.

The first time is your likely down periods.

Check your calendar. When do you have less work? Do you have a quiet period at the same time every year, for example, before a holiday like Christmas, Diwali or Eid? Can you plan for it? Contact your network one month before that downtime. You can add this as a to-do in your calendar.

The second time is whenever you notice you start a downtime. We cannot always plan everything. Life happens. That's ok, so don't wait. As soon as you notice this, send a bunch of emails or messages.
Not everyone will reply or be available. But those who are could lead you to your next opportunity.

Scripts

Scripts can be helpful when sending your first messages – just remember to fit them to your own voice.

First contact

'Hi [your client's first name],
How are you doing? Last time we caught up you were [...].
And how is [the project name] going? I remember it was [...].
I'm offering [your service and why it matters] and am available for more work from [your available time].
Do you have time this week to catch up?
[your usual signature]'

Follow up

'Hi [your client first name],
I contacted you a few days ago to catch up, I understand you've been busy.
Then, are you free this week for a short coffee break?
[your usual signature]'
Get recommended
I love soaps. And what I really love is 'les Savons Cachalot'. They're 200gr cubes made out of the best stuff, wrapped with a small piece of paper, and their logo is super cute.

Voila, I just recommended you a soap. Wouldn't that be great if your current clients could refer your future clients to you just like this?

You can learn more about getting referrals like a pro from Katrina Cobb's session from our event:
Plus, getting referrals is also proof you're doing a great job. You nailed it, so much that your clients want to share your skills with others.

Doing great work consistently will make you more referable. This can be difficult, as due to various circumstances you may not be at your best all the time, but regularity will pay off.

Ask for a recommendation

There are two key times to ask for a recommendation. The first time is right after you worked together. You got great results, everyone is happy. Then, you can ask your clients if they know someone else who would benefit from such results.

The second time is while you're working with them.

Remember that recommendations go both ways - when you hear that your client or colleague needs a service you don't offer, refer them to someone in your network. Also, remember to thank your clients when they refer to you. They took this extra time for you, they're great clients and deserve to know it.

Scripts

You can ask for a recommendation at the end of the usual emails or messages you send your client. For example, when you update them on or wrap up your current project.

'Thanks for your great feedback! Do you see someone in your network benefiting from this too? Forward them to me and I'll see how I can help them.'
Network with your future clients...
I post every day on LinkedIn and regularly connect with new people. We usually have a small chat through messages and, sometimes, a very long chat. That's how, one day, I met a recruiter who introduced me to an agency. They were working on LinkedIn and needed help. I ended up working with them for 18 months.

You can contact people who could be your clients. They might be like your previous clients, come from the same industry, do the same job, or have the same need. Or they could be the type of client you've always dreamed to work with - your ideal client. Find out if they're active on LinkedIn or another social media. If yes, message them there. Otherwise find their email address on their company website or social media.
Again, don't sell your services. You're here to network, not to sell. Connect with them, ask about their work, challenges, or interests. Be human.

...and with colleagues

You're not alone in your freelance journey. You can contact your peers who do similar work or share your values. You can be there for each other, share your wins and struggles, and recommend each other. You can find other freelancers on social media, just like your (future) clients, and on groups. Those can be on Facebook, Slack or other platforms.

Here are 3 freelancers groups I love and recommend:

Freelance Business (Slack), managed by Elina Jutelyte - they host several events, each customised for a different type of freelancers like coders, writers or designers. Join here.

The Leapers (Slack), managed by Matthew Knight - they focus on mental health and have built a safe space where you can share how you really feel today or your small wins.

Being Freelance (Facebook), managed by Steve Folland - they love biscuits, have loads of humour, share tips and vote for the non-employee of the week

Scripts

As always, review the scripts to fit the words you use.
'Hi [their first name],
I'm [your name] and do [what you do]. I saw that you're also doing [something they do in common with you].
I recently noticed [something you recently noticed about their/your industry]. Did you notice that too?
Would love to connect with you.
[your usual signature]'
Equipped with this knowledge (and the helpful scripts), you are on your way to becoming a friendly, approachable freelancer, who clients want to work with and recommend. So go catch up with that person you've been meaning to for ages!

If you are looking for more ways to get clients, you can find more here.
Fanny Marcoux linkedin freelance
Fanny Marcoux
Hi, thanks for reading my article! I'm Fanny and help busy freelancers simplify their marketing, and finally relax. Read more about marketing basics here: https://www.thefreelancerjungle.com/
And check how I can help you here: https://www.fanny-marcoux.com/
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