Social Networking Strategies for Finding More Work

Mar 24 2011 by James Clear | 27 Comments

Social Networking Strategies for Finding More Work

As a web designer or web developer, you probably have a firm grasp on the social media/social networking scene. What I’m finding, however, is that although many people in our industry understand how the Social Web works, surprisingly few of them are actually using it to their advantage for landing more gigs.

With that said, here are a few strategies to help you find new business, generate more leads, and make more sales through social media.

I’ll focus on two social networks: LinkedIn and Twitter, but many of these techniques are universal in that they can be tweaked and reapplied to your preferred social networks (Facebook, Plurk, Yelp, Quora, what have you).

Before You Get Started

Make sure your social media profiles are up to par. When someone stumbles across your profile for the first time, you only have a few seconds to get his or her attention. Your Facebook Pages, LinkedIn groups, Twitter profile, Digg profile and so on, should be appealing to your prospective customers. Your profiles should give people an incentive to follow you or reach out to you.

As an example, I spent almost an hour tweaking my Twitter profile until it sent the right message about how I can help people earn more money. Take the time to write a great profile on LinkedIn, create a compelling description of yourself on Twitter — it will all be worth it.

Using LinkedIn

Did you forget about LinkedIn? I hope not. The average household income is higher on LinkedIn than on Twitter and Facebook. That means people who typically hire you are hanging out on LinkedIn. It’s time to get in touch with them.

Join LinkedIn groups and take part in the discussions that members are having. Questions and concerns are often posted in the discussions section of large groups, which makes it a great place to find people that need help. Plus, any time you join a group, you can message anyone in that group.

If there is an industry that you have done work for in the past, then the right group could prove to be extremely useful. For example, I have built a few websites for insurance agencies in the past. It might be worth my time to join the Insurance Agent Development group and gain access to their 700+ members.

Social Networking Strategies for Finding More Work

From there, I could browse the profiles of different members and send a message with a link to my portfolio to those that look like they need work done on their website.

Search the Answers section of LinkedIn and start helping people. If you go to the Search bar on LinkedIn and select Answers from the dropdown menu, then you can search an entire database of questions posed by LinkedIn members.

Recently, I decided to use the search term "web design" and 34 open questions showed up in the results. That’s 34 people looking for an answer to a web design problem. If you can solve that problem for them, then it’s natural to reach out to them and let them know that you can provide additional help via email. From there, it’s simply a matter of whether they want to pay for more services or not.

Twitter

Find problems proactively. It’s easy to find people that need help on Twitter. Searching for phrases like, "good logo designer" will always bring up a few people looking to hire someone.

But here’s the crazy thing: This method of finding work is rarely being tapped into.

To prove it, I decided to tweet a help request.

Social Networking Strategies for Finding More Work

Do you know how many people contacted me? Three.

There are over 200 million people on Twitter and only three of them decided to get in touch. And only two of the three sent a link to their portfolio (as I requested).

I actively told the world that I was interested in hiring a designer, and still, only a few people reached out.

It’s obvious that most designers and developers roll their eyes at chances like these. It’s true that not everyone on Twitter will be a great fit for you, but there is no reason to avoid reaching out when you have the opportunity to land new business.

So, do regular searches on Twitter for problems you can solve. You can search for terms such as:

Search for pre-buyers. Pre-buyers are people that might not be ready to hire you yet, but they could be in the near future.

People who are upset with their current projects are a great example. Take normal searches that relate to your industry, your competitors, or other areas of interest and add words like "problem" or "useless" or "frustrated".

For example, I immediately came across a disgruntled website owner when I searched "web design useless" on Twitter a few weeks ago. If someone is saying negative things, then they are probably looking for a better solution. This is the perfect time to reach out to these people and offer help.

They might not always buy from you right away, but they are looking to make a change soon.

Tip: If you’re searching for more popular terms like "web design" then the -filter:links operator is a great help. It automatically removes any search results that include links, which helps to eliminate the noise and only display more targeted tweets. Here’s a full list of advanced search operators on Twitter.

Things to Keep in Mind

Here are a couple things you should be aware of when you’re using social networks to find more work.

You don’t need to know a lot people, you just need to know the right people. It can be a tough habit to break, but try not to get caught up in the numbers game. Your time should be spent reaching out to targeted individuals on social networks. Stop spraying your digital business card across the interwebs haphazardly and focus on the person behind the computer screen.

The fact that you reached out and made contact with someone does not put him or her in your debt. Networking across social media is all about providing value. Sometimes that means that you will help people out and they won’t pay you a cent. Don’t take it personally. No one is required to "pay you back" for your helpful emails or kind tweets.

Your job is to find out how you can help people. Eventually, all the value that you are providing will come back to you.

What are your successful social media strategies? How have you proactively found new clients on the web? Share your thoughts and tips in the comments.

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About the Author

James Clear is the founder of Passive Panda, a site about earning more money, more time, and more freedom. Join Passive Panda’s Free Newsletter on Earning More to receive the 7-part Freelancing 101 Course and proven tips for earning more. Connect with Passive Panda on Facebook.

27 Comments

CyberFox

March 24th, 2011

Hi,

On twitter, how do you contact someone who is not following you?

Hannah Hurst

March 24th, 2011

Great tips for finding more work! These are so simple yet I would have never have thought of them! Thanks for sharing.

Brian

March 24th, 2011

Great tips here. Nice to see an article about social media which digs into actionable details.

Derek Oscarson

March 24th, 2011

James,
I use the twitter technique you described on occasion. And it does work. Just wish you hadn’t told anyone! It does generate sometimes good leads but I’ve found it’s mostly smaller client types with limited budgets. I try to secure up to 50% of my fee upfront since you’re finding these clients without any human connection. This is less from a lack of trust than just making sure that the person is a serious client and businessperson.

Another tip I have is to put that into Twitter Search and add the RSS feed of that query into your RSS reader or browser feed. That way it’s always scouring… good info!

Derek Oscarson
@rotologo

Siobhan Hymes

March 24th, 2011

Great article James and some really good things to try out. All I’ve got from Twitter so far is links to some great articles and a free bag of liquorice!!

Strixy

March 24th, 2011

I could care less about LinkedIn.

About the Twitter part, however, I think you may have missed a couple of important talking points and your prime/only example is sadly lacking 4 things:

1) No mention of hash tags / topics. I think people who use Twitter follow the hash tags way more than they might actually search. To wit, It’s easy to jump on a #designerwanted, #designjob, #freelance, #webdesign etc.. when it jumps into their feed.

2) Any statistics on how many designers are following you? Or did you send that Tweet out to 200 MBA’s and marketing students? Which leads me to …

3) How many re-tweets did you get (that may have reached designers following your followers)?

4) -filter:links is groovey, except when people post links to their #portfolio.

Mike Smith

March 24th, 2011

Really good article James and definitely a few ideas I hadn’t thought of (the linkedin answers idea, for example).

I have 10 searches saved in Twitter that I check 1-2 times a day and have landed a few clients through it, so it’s definitely an untapped resource – although, I am perfectly happy that no one else is using it ha ha

James Clear

March 24th, 2011

@Derek — Great tip on adding RSS feed integration. Any time you can automate a process like that, it’s a savvy move.

@Siobhan — Sometimes liquorice is the best payment! :)

@Strixy — a) LinkedIn might not be as immediate as Twitter, but I think you’ll find clients with deeper pockets there. b) Great point on the hashtags. c) I’m not sure how many designers are following me, but the point wasn’t about how many of my followers would respond. It was that designers aren’t searching Twitter. All you had to do was search “hiring designer” “designer” or “infographic”… it doesn’t seem like many are doing that.

MediaNovak

March 24th, 2011

Amazing article James, especially the Twitter part!

Ferb

March 24th, 2011

In my experience, clients found via social networking aren’t worth the effort. Many are cheap skates who are after a bargain. Some of them only pay the deposit and then run. Others waste your time with endless questions and without ever actually hiring you. Just my $0.02

Raj

March 25th, 2011

Great Article……

WPWebHost

March 25th, 2011

LinkedIn should be the most suitable platform for searching professionals and as well as finding new business.

Andrew

March 25th, 2011

Really useful article, your twitter ideas are good, I particularly like Dereks comments too about setting the search feed to RSS, so as to capture more results. Good work!

Rajesh

March 25th, 2011

Great article James and some really good things to try out. Thanks :)

Michael Tuck

March 26th, 2011

James, good article. Most articles of this nature don’t get much past “Social media is teh awesome!” The tips about using Twitter to generate clients are quite useful, especially for designers like myself who primarily serve a particular niche of clients.

Aaron Nichols

March 26th, 2011

I kind of rolled my eyes at this article because I couldn’t really see getting in touch with people on Twitter, but Six Revisions hasn’t let me down so I figured I would try it.

I sent out an email to one person and got the job! Time to use Twitter for even more. Thanks a ton for pointing this out as I had not thought of it.

Maura

March 27th, 2011

great article, i hope it works in latín américa countries as ecuador.. I would let you know..

Chris Wiegman

March 27th, 2011

@CyperFox, all you can do is mention them. Hopefully they will respond.

Some good points here I’ve looked to hire out work a couple of times and searching Twitter is far more effective than requesting applicants.

One thing I always tell people is be careful. Not all your social sites might be applicable professionally. For many Facebook is for friends or people you already know and Twitter is for people you don’t know personally. If that applies to you don’t forget it as mixing the two can be disastrous professionally.

Christina

March 28th, 2011

I really enjoyed this article. As we all know, social media is a huge tool for marketing yourself. Using tools like twitter and linked in can only help you get your name out there for business professionals to find you more easily. Make sure you are smart with what you are saying or else it could harm you. Also, like Clear stated, making sure that your profiles are constantly updated and completed very well to really paint a picture of who you are will only be to your advantage.

In terms of promotion of ideas or the promotion of yourself, the Diffusion of Innovation theory relates. “You don’t need to know a lot people, you just need to know the right people” is a very true statement. It goes hand in hand with the concept of finding “innovators” or “early adaptors” (people who will take your idea and promote it for you). On twitter, if you can just get your idea out to the right person and have them write one tweet about you, all of their followers will believe in that tweet and possibly retweet it to their followers (making the promotion viral). For example, I recently started a blog about unsigned artists. If I find a celebrity on twitter with many followers and get them to post a link to my blog, that will gain me followers and recognition.

kijing

March 28th, 2011

Well said and I think is eye opening for newbi and pro

edie

March 29th, 2011

Social media is a very good and strong marketing weapon i think. Make all your friends embitered of your website link on social media and you will see that your site crowded.

Very nice article james, and i was very happy of getting your newslettter frequently.

edie

Jodi

March 29th, 2011

Great post. Job seekers need to revise their job search strategies to compete successfully.

Tri Nguyen

March 29th, 2011

Wow, i never knew i could use linkin and twitter like this. I only thought you had to have pre-exsting connections to leverage an increase of social media.

Thanks

James Clear

March 29th, 2011

The fact that Aaron got a job from reading this article makes the effort of writing it totally worthwhile. Great job man.

Jacob Gube

March 30th, 2011

@James Clear: I was thinking the same thing. I bet you got a few folks and a few clients connected with this article. Well done!

Adrian

April 10th, 2011

Some great pointers here on making the most of Social Meadia! Thanks James :o)

pa

April 12th, 2011

@James, I just have to join in here and thank you. Very inspiring article! This was actually the third time I returned here to read it :-)

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