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    When Should I Ask For Freelance Work? 

    A few days ago, one of my readers emailed me the following question:

    “I've recently met lawyers at networking events, and asked to help them with their overflow work, including research and writing, and I almost always receive a negative response.  Why do you think that is?”

    Although there are can be many reasons, I suspect one of the main ones is that she starts offering too early, or communicates to them that she "needs" work. Nobody really likes to be asked for anything, especially by strangers. (It's like in dating - they'll want you if you show them you don't need them....)

    “How long do you think I should wait before offering to handle their overflow work? After the first networking event, I may not see them again, or I may see them once or twice more at other networking events,” continued the reader.

    That is true – many attorneys you meet at networking events, you will never see again, or will not see until the next networking event. However, think of networking events not as a place where the actual relationships develop, but as a place for everyone to come, and find people whom they'd like to get to know better. Again, a dating analogy – you don’t go to a dating website to have relationships, but to find people you want to take on a first date. 

    Thus, your goal at the networking events should be to find as many people with whom you want to form relationships, and invite them out to get to know them better elsewhere, and one on one. After all, the best way to get freelance law work is being friends and colleagues with the people you want to work for.

    At your one-on-one meeting, your primary goal should be to get to know them. Don’t be afraid to talk about something other than their law practice, or your freelancing – the most memorable conversations have nothing to do with the office. But, make sure to occasionally return the conversation back to the office – because before the meeting is over, you’ll need to mention your skills, and what a great friendly competent passionate etc person you are. Here, you have to make sure they understand that you are ready and wiling to work – without asking them if they'd give you any. (I'll write about how to do that next week.)

    As the relationship develops, they'll want to help you without you asking for help. Listening to you, they will think back to their own practice, skimming their brain for any work that they can hand over to you, to help you out. 

    So, in summary: use networking events to meet lawyers. Invite them elsewhere to get to know them better. In the process, communicate your availability to work generally, and wait for them to offer you work.

    Don’t forget: once they mention that they might have some freelance work for you – you must use your excellent follow up skills to not let the opportunity slip away!


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