As I have mentioned, I’ve got work on my mind. Much of my major work over the last year has come to an end and so I am looking for some work to do over this summer. It’s not easy because I have a month long holiday in the middle of it (yeah, I know, it sucks to be me!) but it does make it difficult to look for work when you are available for 6 weeks, not available for 4 and then available again for another 6. It takes good scheduling.
I remember years ago, when I was a budding opera singer, reading an interview with the Canadian Tenor Benjamin Butterfield who said something to the effect of “careers are not built on premieres but on return engagements.” That stuck with me. The idea that getting a new company to hire you is much harder than getting a company you have already worked with to rehire you.
It’s an old sales idea that an existing customer is far more likely to buy from you again (and much more cost effective to market to) than a new customer. Much of marketing is about customer retention (getting your existing customers to repurchase) as opposed to prospecting for new customers.
With this in mind, I have been contacting people that I have previously worked with – touching base with people who have brought me work in the past.
Here’s where having good relationships with people can pay off. There is a guy who I did a lot of work for in the past, I was producing a huge volume of writing for him, but unfortunately his budget was very small. After awhile I just felt that instead of cranking the work out for him for low money, I should put my time and energy into going after larger fishes. Which I did. But even larger fishes sometimes dry up.
I sent him an email today and he has offered me more work and a greater rate of pay than I worked for previously. So it pays off that I was always good to him and always turned out my very best writing, despite what he was paying.
Likewise, I am setting up meets for coffee/lunch/drinks with people I have worked for/with in the past. Sending out email messages and generally waking my network up to the fact that I am available and looking for some work – whether writing, teaching or acting.
At the same time, it’s important to keep networking and expanding that web of contacts in the hope that some of them might become customers as well.
I went to a local networking group and landed two customers in my first visit. That work is now complete but I’m heading back tonight to see if I can get further work from them and get them to introduce me to some of the others who just might have a need of some writing services as well. It’s all part of reaching out and meeting new people. I can’t pretend it’s my favourite thing to do, but then neither is starving! Sometimes needs must.
So I am working both ends of the spectrum – trying to get previous customers to purchase more work from me, while at the same time expanding my customer base by trying to attract new customers (and as much as possible, I am trying to use recommendations from previous customers to help attract the new ones!). It’s all part of the dance of networking.
Which previous customers can you contact to see if there is any work for you? How can you cultivate new networks? Let me know your best ideas in the comments box below.