Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Top Tips: Harness the horse's mouth

This is no time to hide your head. Wilting wallflowers maskerading as freelancers just won’t cut it in these days of cut-throat business. With more people jumping onto the freelance bandwagon every day you have to find ways to make your home-based business stand out from the crowd. Even in my own case as a flourishing freelancer – my business is blooming – I still need to make new clients aware of what I can do for them with my native-English editing service.

The cons of self-promotion probably aren’t an issue in up-and-at-em cultures like the ones you find Across the Pond or Down Under or to be specific, the USA, Australia and New Zealand. My situation is rather more delicate. If I blew my own horn in the somewhat stiff corporate culture of the Netherlands, I might come across as conceited (which I am not, of course) and that would only turn potential clients off.

So, how do you get round this problem? By getting other people to blow your horn for you, that’s how. And how do you do that? Well, I’m about to tell you in this part of my series on Top Tips for Freelancers. The answer is...

Top tip #3
Harness people power. People trust personal advice from the people they know, and if you can exploit the immense power of positive word of mouth, you are on to a very good thing. If someone tells me they are happy with what I’ve done for them, I ask them to spread the news.

You can do the same. Ask your happy clients to pass on the good word to their colleagues, friends and relations. People are delighted to oblige, indeed, no one has ever turned down my polite request. So don’t be afraid, just ask and you too will get new business through the personal recommendations of clients.

Bonus tip: Publicize the positive. When clients say nice things about my work I ask if I can post their comments on the Warmly recommended page of my website. Or I ask them (at the same time thanking them for taking the trouble) to add their own ‘thumbs up’ to my business ad on the Dutch site Marktplaats. And if something newsworthy happens, like three clients giving me fantastic feedback in one week, I might even mention this fact on my status line on LinkedIn. It’s all good publicity that both harnesses and accentuates the positive power of word of mouth.

Don’t just take my word for it, go right to the source and ask the Horse! He’ll give you the answer that you’ll endorse, or failing that, the Horse of course will sing the blues. Enjoy!

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