Hey, freelancers, it’s nice to be important

… but it’s more important to be nice.

The life of a working freelance consultant swings the pendulum of too-much-work to wondering-where-the-next-project-will-come-from (often both at the same time). When you’re busy, it’s easy to skip answering incoming invites to chat. I get it.

Here’s my flip side as a boutique staffing agency and a guy who knows a lot of people. Every two weeks I probably contact 3-5 consultants who are “cool” leads – people where we know somebody in common, or I’ve done some research on their background, but we don’t know each other well and I didn’t ask for a warm introduction. On average, 1/3 don’t ever respond to a first or second query.

If that happens, I will never contact you again: I always check if I’ve sent a note in the past, and I don’t want to be a harassing jerk. But because I know my business and I know how to read someone’s background, someday I will find something interesting for you, and you will have a break coming up, and you won’t end up hearing about it.

It’s easy to temporarily blow me off. Great response: “thanks for contacting me: I’m booked until April, but if you have any projects in PHP coming up after that, I’d love to hear about it.” Perfectly fine response: “I’m completely booked up for the foreseeable future, but thanks.”

If you’re a freelancer, lead cultivation is part of your business. It costs you seconds and it is the best way to keep non-referral work moving along.

P.S. Does the recruiter sound like a dummy? Yeah, well, dummies get business too. Doesn’t hurt to be nice. You don’t have to date him.

P.P.S. Is the mail clearly spam, or does the recruiter keep harassing you? Well, then obviously ignore them. Duh.