The power of ex colleagues when going freelance

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How many ex colleagues do you keep in touch with? Whether it’s Facebook, phone call, text messages or perhaps face to face? I assume the number is quite small.

Ex colleagues should never be underestimated. As humans we hate delving into the unknown. Instead we retreat back to what we know well. Tried and tested methods of individuals you know and trust. Those friendly faces, high achievers, people you’ve heard nothing but good things about. How many companies have you worked in where the senior members of staff have come from the managing director’s old company? Football managers take players from one club to another (Harry Redknapp and Niko Kranjčar anyone?) as they know the character and work ethic of the said individual. Reputation management in this way is done across the globe.

YOUR professional career is no different.

If you’ve built a good reputation everywhere you have been then there’s a strong chance if you make the leap into the freelance world then ex colleagues will be your first clients. They can be the initial leg up you need; the bread and butter which gets you established. They can help with positive testimonials, refer you to other prospective clients and help you build your business one connection at a time.

They know you, they know you will deliver and will trust you time and time again.

Ever since taking on freelance clients 100% of my work has come via ex colleagues or friends. Of course I put this down to my achievements in my previous roles however there needs to be a good working and personal relationship established too. I know really skilled individuals who are painfully difficult to deal with meaning I would not choose to work with them again. The relationship needs to be a two dimensional approach of what you deliver and how reliable you are to work with.

Why would they want to work with you again?
Delivering growth & hitting targets are part and parcel of the digital world. You hire a head of digital and you expect growth. If I was looking to achieve growth and had a vacancy within my organisation then I would approach any individual who has achieved growth for me in the past.

As a snapshot some of the reasons may be;

    • Tried and tested formula
    • Results based business
    • Risk free relationship
    • Zero recruitment headaches

Harnessing the power of ex colleagues:
There’s no magic bullet when it comes to earning referrals from ex colleagues. There’s no special formula. It’s really as simple as being authentic, passionate and driven by what you do and having a working personality to match.

A few steps you can take to give yourself a fighting chance of any ex colleague referrals are the following:

  • Update social profiles with new job/work status (Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook – in that order)
  • Drop them a direct message to let them know you are now freelancing.
  • Stay connected with them on a social level. Show interest. (Long term, good old fashioned relationship building)
  • Be good at what you do and never leave a job with a bad reputation. It’ll follow you!
  • Don’t be a dick!

I cannot stress the importance of maintaining good working relationships whatever project you work on. People talk, change jobs and the business world is smaller than you think. Ex colleagues can give your freelance career the leg up you may need.

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