Every business has competitors. If you’re like me, some of your competitors will be close friends. I wonder: do you share job sources with your friendly competitors?
My friends and I often share details of good recruiters, client organizations, and service businesses who need freelancers. We frequently refer each other jobs and clients when we don’t have time to do the work, aren’t interested in the project (perhaps because we’re trying to focus on new industries or work types), or need help for some other reason.
Sharing job sources and contacts can be an extremely valuable tactic for the freelancer. Here’s why.
1. It encourages reciprocation.
Everyone I’ve ever sent a job or client to has sent me jobs and clients. If you offer to refer a client to a friendly competitor, you can build the foundations for a solid association of mutual respect that could lead to more work and bigger jobs in the future.
2. It can get you out of a fix.
We all know how helpful it is to have a reliable, qualified business to direct work to during those periods when we’re overloaded. Having a friendly competitor as your overflow outlet can be a great way to share the freelancing love, while retaining your reputation for good advice and client care.
3. It can help out a competitor.
You can help out competitors by taking on projects they can’t handle for whatever reason. Whether they’re understaffed or going on holiday, your willingness to take on their client knowing that they’ll probably want to continue their working relationship with that client in future, will build up your brownie points with that competitor, and might just encourage them to do the same for you some time.
4. It can encourage information sharing.
Take on a job for a friendly competitor, or send one their way, and you may well find yourself discussing the client’s past work in some detail with your competitor. This interaction can provide insights into the client, the techniques and work processes your competitor uses, and other points of value. You may be able to adapt that knowledge to improve your own operation, hone your market approach, or even reshape your offering toward a different offering or segment.
5. It can expand your clientele, experience, and capabilities.
Of course, sharing job source contacts can help you build your business. it can do a lot to expand the types of projects and clients you’re exposed to. It can give you experience with tasks or industries with which you otherwise may not engage. It can develop your skillset and portfolio, lead to other referrals, and expand your client base. And it can give you the satisfaction of knowing you’ve helped a fellow freelancer gain the same advantages.
Do you share job source contacts with friendly competitors? How has it worked for you?