Are you the “go to” freelancer?
If you are fortunate enough to already have repeat contract business, then you are doing something right but are you the “go to” freelancer at those places?
By that I mean do certain jobs or situations bring your name to the mind of the employer because of your relationship with that employer? Regardless of skills to a certain extent too? Also, because you follow orders, do the job and don’t complain. Every time.
I will be the first to admit I’ve never considered myself to be the best artist anywhere I worked. In fact, I viewed myself almost as a hanger-on doing cleanup work and straightening out problems no one else wanted to deal with.
I was always improving my skills, seeing how others did it and constantly upping my game to stay relevant. This led to me being more prepared than others on the team to handle a request or take on additional responsibility when the opportunity arose.
Also… when others were wrapped up in their assignments and something came up… their propensity to say no to additional work or changes also led to me getting more opportunities as I usually said yes. We’ll get more into that in a later installment.
Relationships are built on trust, which we’ve all heard hundreds of times. What exactly does that mean in the context of the real world?
It means you might be given the opportunity to try things you might not have been able to otherwise.
I had such a great relationship with one of my contracted studios that almost every time something came up that no one had any experience with I was given a budget and marching orders to research it to the best of my ability and report back.
Read that last bit again if you didn’t catch what I just said. I was ASSIGNED to research something like Virtual Reality or Augmented Reality and given a budget to get the necessary equipment needed to carry out the research. I wasn’t given a blank check, but it was as close as I’ll ever get to one.
Just by cultivating this relationship with this studio I was able to delve into a lot of different aspects of digital freelancing and that is a wide area! This gave me the opportunity to write those dry white papers we all hear about but avoid like the plague. Those white papers then caught the attention of others in the industry that sought me out for various reasons from consulting to digital work.
What all of this boils down to is that fact that I put just as much hard work into my relationship with employers as I did my digital work. I made notes of names, birthdates and family events if they were ever mentioned so that I could use these to better my relationship with them.
One of your employers or contacts having a bad day or week?
Amazing what a well-timed gift card, flowers or fruit can do to at this point. Yes… its old fashioned but it works. I’ve never been told anyone was offended by it. Just make sure doing so doesn’t violate any terms of employment.
Taking advantage? No. I took advantage of no one and used the information at hand to do something positive for that person.
Chances are high they will remember you after that.
Chances are also high you will be asked if you are “buttering them up” for something to which I always reply yes… to look forward to receiving my calls.
Gift cards for men and gift cards, flowers, or fruit for the ladies was the order of the day but nowadays a gift card might be just the ticket for both since that can’t be misconstrued.
Building that relationship means bringing respect to the forefront and never ever engaging in actions that make the employer question your integrity.
They don’t need those kinds of problems with freelancers so keep your nose clean.
Personalize every contact with your employer when possible. Keep notes of those little things like names of their kids and life events you might become privy to. These are important to them, so they should hold some importance to you.
Cultivate your relationship with employers as a farmer would a crop. Always mindful of what is needed to not fall behind the curve. At all times be respectful, be polite and meet your deadlines.
Be the “go to” freelancer for your employer.
M.D. McCallum, aka WarLord is an international award-winning commercial graphics artist, 3D animator, published author, project director and webmaster with a freelance career that spans over 20 years. Now retired, M.D. is currently working part-time on writing and select character development projects. You can learn more about MD at his website.