Friday, April 24, 2015

How to Network With Startup and Small-Scale Entrepreneurs

One of the niches in freelancing that has proven to be very lucrative is tapping into the needs of entrepreneurs whose businesses are still on the startup stage. There are also a host of small-scale enterprises that may benefit from the expertise of a savvy freelancer.

According to the magazine Entrepreneur (Philippine edition), among the total number of enterprises in the country, only an estimated four percent are comprised of huge corporations. The rest are made up of SMEs, or small and medium enterprises.

Subsequent reports have said that along with remittances from overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), these SMEs have been keeping the Philippine economy afloat.

But you need to be aware that startup and small-scale enterprises don't have the horrendously large budgets that well-known companies have. It's highly likely for them to rely on methods that are inexpensive, or cost-effective, to promote their products or services.

A common marketing strategy among small-scale enterprises is carving out their own niches. They intend to attract only a fraction of consumers or clientele.

And yet, this doesn't mean that small-scale entrepreneurs don't need the services of a freelancer to help them generate more income. This only means that you have to align your skills and services with the needs of these entrepreneurs.

To help you get started, here are several suggestions:

  • Keep tab of a couple of trade magazines and look for announcements of conventions for entrepreneurs. Different types of conventions aim to cater to a wide range of industries. There are wedding and bridal conventions, as well as photography, baking, cooking, crafts, and scrapbooking. These are the first venues to keep in mind if you want to meet potential clients. Bring several business cards.
  • Do some research and find out if there are seminars held around your community where trainers aim to teach livelihood skills. Become more familiar with the seminar organizers' advocacy by immersing yourself in their activities.
  • If you have an area of expertise, get in touch with the organizers and express your desire to train or teach participants. I personally know a young, male professional who is passionate about making beaded accessories. This led him to a stint as a mentor, where he taught women beadmaking in order to help their husbands augment the household income.
  • After each seminar, politely approach anyone in charge and ask for his contact information.
  • "Web stalk" your potential clients. Check and see if they post updates or announcements on their Facebook Page, or if they have a website or blog.
  • Based on what you've seen in the seminars and online, come up with a proposal for a marketing strategy. Make it as cost-effective as possible, and realize that each enterprise have different marketing needs.
  • Email a letter of introduction (LOI) to the contact person, briefly explaining who you are and your qualifications as a freelancer.
  • Don't immediately talk about your freelancer's rates. Your proposal must entice your potential clients and win them over to your point of view.
  • Provide your contact information, and the time when you can be reached.

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