~ Find Connections
Your next step is to find connections into these prospective clients. Use one or more of the following sources:
Use your network. Check out for folks in your network who work for these prospective clients. Check out network of your contacts. LinkedIn has a great feature to search such connections. It will show you if a friend of yours has a friend who has another friend who works at that company. You can use LinkedIn’s Introduction Request feature to get connected to the right person.
Reach out to recruiters. Many recruiting companies now work with self-employed professionals to find contract opportunities. Find some key recruiting companies in your industry. Find friends or colleagues who have worked with recruiters from these companies and get a referral. Meet/speak with the recruiter on a regular basis to build relationship.
Find Subcontracting opportunities. Many companies work with a handful of staffing firms to find contractors. Find out if your target companies have any such relationship. Then build relationship with those companies for subcontracting opportunities. Check out the sub-contracting page for more details on this.
Speak with folks outside your immediate network. For example neighbors, parents at your kid’s school or folks at your church/temple.
Check out your school alumni database. You may find folks who work for or used to work for these clients.
~ Reach Out
Take a systematic and displayed approach to reach out to each of the folks you have identified in the previous step. But before you call or email them, think about the approach you should take with each. Here are some example approaches you may consider.
With Friends: Reaching out to friends should be informal. It can be via phone, email or however else you and the friend are comfortable with. Ask them who else they can introduce you to in your quest.
With Recruiters: Send an email with a copy of your resume and follow-up with a phone call. Some recruiters like to meet in person. Embrace that opportunity.
With People outside your immediate network: These can be folks you met at the church, someone your friend introduced you to or someone from your alumni database. Instead of asking them to help you find work, request them for informational interviews. An informational interview is where you find out about trends of a profession, culture of a company etc. People are more willing to share this information because they don't feel obligated to help you find work. Also people love to be asked for advice. Use the conversation to build relationship. A good relationship many times leads to work opportunities.
Say Thanks. Whether it's a friend, recruiter or someone else, never forget to send a thank you note after you have these conversations.
Make sure you follow-up with the folks you spoke with on a regular basis. This is key to a sustaining relationship. If you do that sincerely and diligently then very soon you will find opportunities knocking at your door. Embrace them on your path to a successful self employment.