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Independent contractor without the cold calling

There seems to be somewhat of a consensus that the best way to get gigs is through networking, and that when all else fails, you've got to cold call.

I'm just curious, how many of you are successful independents without having to spend a lot of time calling complete strangers?

Monday, May 3, 2004

I think you skipped a question there, maybe you should start by asking how did you get started building a network. Regarding cold calling, it's how how much you have to do, it's how effective. A lot of people never did grunt door to door sales or telemarketing (maybe because they feel it's beneath them), but little do they know in just a few days you learn a lot about what works and what doesn't (there are a lot of things that doesn't work in cold calling sales). So if you don't learn the basics you can do cold calling with really nice clients because you won't know what you did wrong.

Li-fan Chen
Monday, May 3, 2004

Sure, but I would just like to know if anybody is getting enough projects without all the cold calling. For example, is anybody out there lucky enough to have clients actually calling them? I don't know anybody who is. It almost seems pointless to be listed in the yellow pages. Is it possible to generate sales just by being visible in forums, magazines, etc?

Monday, May 3, 2004

I once did some cold calling. I HATED it. I did it for 4 days. From it I got some steady work that lasted a year and then I got a simple cgi job from an ad agency and I later ended up working at the ad agency. I used to call people up (pulled from a list of companies I thought would need people like ad agencies) and ask to speak to the person in charge of the internet.  I also have responded in newsgroups to people's programming questions and from this I actually did get some work from people who saw my posts. Not much. I didn't do much of that either. Personally I just like to build things. I spent US$50.00 on google and overture and I got some work that way and I always sent my resume in for jobs I could match and I once got about 2 months work from that.  A lot of work was working on stuff that other people started but could not finish for one reason or another. All these people who say one shouldn't rewrite are people who've never done this sort of thing :) ... I think a key factor is to keep on keeping on. Advertise, do newsgroups, network locallly etc.

must remain anonymous
Monday, May 3, 2004

During a period when I was out of work I thought I would try to get work as a sub-contractor. I pulled out the Yellow Pages which served a smaller area, about 500,000 people in a fairly isolated region.

There were over 200 computer consultants and software development companies!

I called about 1/4 of them before a job surfaced through more usual means, but I did get a couple of interested responses.

I should also mention that I had lunch with the consultant husband of my dental hygenist. So tell everyone that you need work.

Monday, May 3, 2004

I got someone calling me last week saying 'are you available for a 9-12 month contract?' It does happen. It was, of course, a client I'd worked with before: I don't advertise, or even have business cards.

I almost never do purely 'cold' calling. Ususally it's so;meone I've worked with before, or often, when I've called someone I have worked with before who's not got anything, I ask if they can suggest anyone I could talk to. Then when I speak to the other person it's "Hi, x gave me your name..." which never feels like cold calling to me, and I'm sure is much more productive.

I've found I need to make four or five 'networking' calls a month to keep the work coming in. That's in addition to the calls when something looks promising, and the general round of coffee with friends in the industry.

Nic C-L
Monday, May 3, 2004

I don't think cold calling or ads in work for consultants as such.

Ads can bring in some work if you're a small shop or a small office and do small scale work.

To get work as a consultant, you have to know people well who've worked with you before in some way. If you have a collection of such people, then it can be useful to phone them every so often looking for opportunities. They might even refer you to other people they know.

But, generally, no-one hires a consultant who just rings up and asks for work.

Monday, May 3, 2004

I wouldn't work for any client that would hire me.

Groucho Marx
Monday, May 3, 2004

I'm an independent but don't consider myself to be a contractor.  It may be only a semantic difference, but I've always considered a contractor to be hired on the basis of time (6 month contract etc) whereas I nearly always work on task based contracts (eg implement 3 site WAN) or on an as needed basis.  Sure there are time constraints, but there's no x month "gigs" for me.

Anyway, I'm in a small town so the network effects are magnified, but  what the previous posters have said regarding ads have held true for me.  I run a yellow pages ad just for reference for anyone who has misplaced my contact detail.  It's also there as some positive reinforcement that I am a viable business entity for the unsure.  Clients who have been referred to me by a 3rd party have been known to check the yellow pages to make sure I'm not "some guy's uncle's bartender's mate".  I do the same myself.

Ther closest I get to cold calling is targetted mailouts and, yes, I have had people "just call" from the yellow pages.  Not a significant number, but any number >0 is a positive.

I'll also second Nic C-L 's suggestion of "touching base" calls and  the importance of shouting a few drinks/coffees with important contacts.

Motown (AU)
Tuesday, May 4, 2004

I think the difference between small-scale shop and independent contractor is negligeble from the marketing point of view. I'm a contractor, and I compete for gigs against small-scale web development shops all the time.

I don't see why traditional advertising shouldn't work for a contractor. Though you may want to present yourself as a company in your ads, which I think is perfectly fair and OK.

Tuesday, May 4, 2004

I don't really consider myself a contractor because I bring the client's work in-house rather than fill their cubes. But the question is still pertinent.

I've never had to make cold-calls, but I don't doubt that they can be effective. I've had much more success by simply working hard to build a network of decision makers and keep in contact with those people. As someone else mentioned, just grabbing a cup of coffee is a great way to keep in touch.

Mark Hoffman
Tuesday, May 4, 2004

Networking + Flair

Have a good friend with a nice consulting firm that rustled up sales via networking and gift-giving.  He got some really cool looking travel mugs imprinted with the company logo and phone number and made a point to face-to-face visit with prospects and associates.

Sure enough, an associate of a prospect (one level of indirection) hooked him up and I think he now has three developers billing at very nice rates (think north of $140) with a mid-tier developer coming on board.

dir at badblue com
Tuesday, May 4, 2004

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