This time last year, I was seriously struggling to get new business in the door. Today things are much better. I’m happy to say that I’m about eight weeks away from hitting a financial goal I’ve had for a long time. If all goes well I might even be there by the time I attend this year’s Creative Freelancer Conference.
What’s changed, you ask?
The main thing I’m doing differently now, as I described in an earlier post, is getting out of the office more often to meet with potential clients—and making it one of the things my buddy group holds me accountable for so I don’t backslide.
So when I heard about the “Happy Hour + Matchmaking” for Freelancers and InHOWse managers at this year’s CFC (June 22-24 in San Francisco), my immediate response was: “A room full of potential clients? Sign me up!”
The confirmation message said, “We’re so glad you’re coming! Only fifteen people have signed up so far!”
I’m finding it tough to believe that anyone who’s coming to CFC would want to miss an opportunity like this: overworked corporate types who desperately need freelancers will literally be looking for you! You’ve already got their attention.
I’m guessing word either hasn’t gotten around, or that those of you who know about it aren’t sure what’s going on.
So here’s a quick FAQ/kick-in-the-seat-of-the-pants. (And remember, nobody’s paying me to write this.)
What’s this “matchmaking” event all about, anyway?
The Creative Freelancer Conference is one of four events that happen as part of HOW Design Live, one of the biggest annual events for creative types in the world. CFC is the part that’s specifically for solopreneurs and freelancers, but there’s another slice of the conference called the InHOWse Managers Conference (if you want to sound hip when you meet the HOWies, the alphabet soup for this event is “IHMC”).
This little “matchmaking happy hour” shindig is a chance for the two groups to get together (as Ilise explained in a previous post).
Will I meet real prospects or just a bunch of placement firm reps?
Most of the folks coming through will be managers of in-house design departments…people who work for large companies (with marketing budgets—wink, wink), and they often hire freelancers to do overflow work. There are no guarantees of course, but HOW is hinting that some of the companies listed here might show up. And don’t forget that freelancers hire other freelancers as they grow, so the other freelancers in the room will be prospective collaborators you’ll definitely want to meet too.
How does it work?
Think of yourself as a presenter at a trade show. You’ll get half a table to display your stuff on, and the InHOWse folks will wander around “organically” (read: no formal matchmaking). You will already have heard Dyana Valentine’s “Pitch Perfect” and Dana Manciagli’s “Cut the Crap and Start Networking” so you’ll be more than prepared to talk to these friendly and interested “strangers.”
What should I bring?
Whatever you like—this isn’t as formal as the portfolio review—but you’ll want to come prepared as if you were pitching your services to any other client. It might not hurt to make a table sign or bring something eye-catching. (Note that some of the tables will be round.)
But what if I’m really shy?
Take the long view. If you make just one good connection at this event, you may not have to work as hard at self-promotion the rest of the year. This may also be one of the few opportunities you have to “let your work speak for itself.” You can handle that for an hour and a half.
Do I have to pay extra for this?
Wait a minute. Did you just say I don’t have to pay extra for this?
So if you’re coming to CFC and haven’t signed up for matchmaking with the InHOWse crowd yet, take just a moment to examine your logic:
- You’re already planning to pay for the conference, travel, meals, a place to crash, and overpriced institutional coffee.
- You’ve already seen some of these charges on your credit card bill.
- But you’re not going to attend one of the few parts of the event where some of the best prospects you’re likely to meet all year—overworked corporate types who desperately need freelancers—will parade past you with no effort required on your part other than showing up and putting your stuff—or even just a freakin’ tablet with sample files in it—on a table?
WHAT ARE YOU THINKING??!!
Now e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and sign up before I reach through this screen and shake you.
And if you are still on the fence about whether you can afford the time or expense of CFC, think about it this way: one good connection could be worth the price of registration many times over. Plus, you can still get $50 off if you use the promo code: “ILISE” — WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR? You can’t afford not to attend!
Tom N. Tumbusch writes copy that creates action for creative agencies and green businesses. He publishes a free writing tips newsletter each month and periodically shares more casual wisdom on the WordStream of Consciousness Blog. His tiny solar-powered corner of the Internet can be found at www.wordstreamcopy.com.