29 September 2007 - 12:21Becoming a Freelance Programmer (Part 3)
Most people are helpful and supportive of freelancers. They know that freelancers survive by being good, trustworthy and helpful and so they try to help. Do remember to tell people that you are freelancing, what you do and what you’re looking for.
Don’t bore them, just let them know what you need and they’re bound to bear you in mind when they meet other people. Always let people know if you’re about to be available, you don’t want unplanned downtime.
Meeting People at Events
There are plenty of events you can go to as a freelancer to meet potential clients and freelancers. Here in Brighton we have a great set of local geek events [Sussex Digital – thanks Dave & Josh!].
Look out for Geek Dinners and Girl Geek Dinners (boys need a girl to invite them). Here we have the Sussex Geek Dinners and Brighton Girl Geek Dinners. Each are free to attend and great places to network. We also have Vine Brighton, your area is bound to have similar events.
Brighton hosts the Â£5 Apps meet (I’m a co-founder) – a meetup for those that are interested in start-ups and can-do techy types. Someone presents and idea or company they founded, everyone asks questions, beer is consumed, people network. See past write-ups of our last six Â£5 Apps meetings.
Make Yourself Known by Organising Events
A great way to get known in a local scene is to organise events. You can offer to help run existing events but if there’s something missing and you want to see it happen – organise it!
I wanted a venue to discuss entrepreneurship, my friend John wanted a geek event to discuss projects, we created the Â£5 Apps as a result. After 6 months we now have a successful event, beer is funded by local companies and we have 20-30 attendees every month. We’d love to hear about other Â£5 App events elsewhere in the country – drop us a line if you want to run one!
Similarly, with another Jon (Inuda) we wanted a relaxed coffee morning for local tech companies so we organised OpenCoffee Sussex at the Sussex Innovation Centre. We’ve had 7 great meetings now, bi-weekly, they’re also now funded allowing free coffee, each is attended by 12-20 local companies.
Organising events takes a few hours a month and is a great way to get yourself known. In part I wanted the Â£5 Apps as I’m a bit overwhelmed by public speaking – running an event is a good way to get essential practice at speaking in public.
I also felt that Brighton lacked a mailing list for tech companies to talk business. Along with Ivan Pope we organised the Brighton Digital mail-list. The list is small and building a list always takes time, it grows every week and over time it will become a useful local resource. We’ve already had some conversations between local companies discussing local resources and swapping ideas.
What’s the value of these events?
As ever – you have to offer value to other people when you organise things. Your own events and mail-lists aren’t a mouthpiece for shouting about your own company, they’re just a useful way of establishing your credibility whilst providing a useful feature to others.
Figure out what is missing in your local scene and build an event around that. Find a partner who wants to share the workload, make sure there is interest and then just do it. It’ll take a few events to gather steam, don’t be put off – most people will only pay attention when something is ‘more established’.
If you’re building a new geek event then feel very welcome to post a comment here. We’d especially like to see the Â£5 Apps syndicated elsewhere