What should you prioritize when you first start freelancing? Surely, it’s pitching.
Or maybe setting up an online presence.
Or is it guest posting?
No doubt, all of these things are important. But in the midst of it all, we forget that it’s the interaction with other people that greatly influenced the way you build your freelance career. There are people behind the gigs that we pitch, and there are people who scroll through our social media profiles.
In today’s guest post, Stefanie shares why she chose relationship building as one of her priorities. And if you don’t know what “corner four” relationships are, you’re about to find out.
Freelancers have hard choices to make on a regular basis. You’ve probably wondered most of these things at one time or another:
- Which training should I invest in first? Is it going to be worth my money?
- Should I focus on my website right off the bat, or should I jump into pitching?
- Should I guest post for free to build a portfolio? Or write my own samples?
- And a big one … how do you know when it’s time to take the leap and freelance full time?
Deciding How to Invest Your Time and Money
Getting your business off the ground quickly depends on the choices you make. If you want to be efficient, choosing wisely becomes imperative.
If you’re not careful, you can work on your business 24/7 and spend a lot of money on the many training options available, leaving you very little net profit compared to the time you’ve put in.
How many business products are in your inbox right now that you really, really want to buy? (I can easily count ten in mine, and as a minimalist, I’m usually immune to marketing. Not the case with freelance sales!)
So what’s a freelancer to do, especially when they’re just starting out?
Why Building Relationships is My First Priority
We can all probably agree that reinvesting in your business is necessary, but in the early days, when time and resources are limited, deciding what should be the priority is a challenge.
Part of my startup plan has been to reinvest 25 percent of my gross revenue, and I’ve made a deliberate decision to put relationship building first.
I’ve personally invested in business coaching, the Mamapreneur Mastermind, and mindset coaching.
Here are two adages that have helped me tremendously in building my business. Perhaps you’ve heard them too, but have you ever considered what they really mean:
- If you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room.
- If you want to soar with eagles, don’t fly with the turkeys.
It just makes good sense to surround yourself with people you aspire to be like and learn from them.
Then last year, I read Dr. Henry Cloud’s book, The Power of the Other. It took the concept to a whole new level. Because of it, I have no doubt I’ve made the right, targeted initial investments for my freelance business (beyond 30 Days or Less to Freelance Writing Success, of course!).
What’s the Power of the Other?
In his book, Dr. Cloud describes the power relationships have in our lives and businesses.
The right kind of relationships create an “energy exchange” that move us beyond our own limits and propel us further (and faster) than we could ever go on our own.
According to Henry Cloud, there are four different types of connections:
- Corner One: Disconnected (Isolated and going it alone)
- Corner Two: A Bad Connection (Full of anxiety, guilt, inferiority and negativity)
- Corner Three: False “Good Connection” (Short-term fun, but overall full of flattery and emptiness)
- Corner Four: The Real Thing (Where the magic happens)
A few hallmarks of a Corner Four connection:
- Authenticity: It’s a place you can be vulnerable, admit need and receive honest feedback.
- Growth: It’s a place to learn, grow and thrive.
- Fuel for performance: It’s a place to recharge and regain your energy.
How to Find Your Corner Four in Business Relationships
Here are several ways to develop high-quality business relationships:
1. Actively Participate in Facebook Groups
When reading Dr. Cloud’s book, I realized Gina’s 30 Days or Less to Freelance Writing Success Facebook group was my freelance “Corner Four.” Joining a Facebook group of like-minded business owners will propel you forward in your business.
There are so many ways to participate in a Facebook group:
- Ask questions (I bet someone out there has the exact same one and is afraid to ask!)
- Offer support to fellow members (Please somebody tell me how you get ten solid pitches out in a day; I still haven’t figured that one out!)
- Commiserate mishaps (Oops; just sent out a pitch with a glaring typo! Been there, done that!)
- Share wins (So motivating to fellow freelancers!)
You’ll learn a ton from observing, but the more you participate, the more you will get out of the relationships that develop.
2. Find an Accountability Partner
That Facebook group you’ve been active in is a great place to find an accountability partner (or two or three)!
An accountability partner can:
- Talk you through any mindset issues you are facing (Perhaps perfectionism is getting in the way of sending a pitch or starting an article? Your accountability partner will help you get to the bottom of why this happens, so you can get past it!)
- Motivate you to set and achieve your goals (For example, I told my partners I’ll finish that copywriting course by Wednesday! You’d better believe I’ll get it done!)
- Read your articles and let you know if you’re on the right track (A little feedback goes a long way. When we’re so close to our work, editing becomes very hard.)
And of course, you should also be there to offer motivation and support when your accountability partner needs it. I’ve found that to be highly motivating in and of itself, because I want to be a partner worth having.
3. Invest in Coaching
The very first investment I made, beyond the writing course, was in a coaching session. My coach opened my eyes to a niche I hadn’t even considered, even though it was staring me in the face!
I recently chose to invest in mindset coaching, which has me ready to pitch higher rates in the industry that the first coach opened my eyes to. I would definitely still be spinning my wheels and searching for lower paying gigs without these coaches.
A good coach can:
- Answer your tough freelancing questions (Remember all the questions from the beginning of this article!?)
- Help you see things in a new light (They’ve been through it!)
- Save you so much time and effort! (It’s a good idea to invest sooner than later!)
There are different kinds of coaching for different needs. We all have strengths and weaknesses! Wisdom comes from identifying our own weaknesses and seeking the help we need.
4. Join a Mastermind Group
I already knew it was a good idea, and though I probably would have considered it, I’m not sure I would have taken the leap. Because of The Power of the Other, I jumped at the chance to join the Mamapreneur Mastermind the moment I received the email that the doors were open.
Although there were other things on my list to purchase, joining the Mastermind was a no-brainer. I knew it was the smartest investment I could make.
It’s a give-and-take of other freelancers. And for me, it serves as a chance to learn from other high-achieving “mompreneurs” with a variety of skill sets coupled with powerful accountability. It’s also a pretty affordable way to receive coaching and training.
It’s my freelancing “Corner Four,” kicked up a notch.
Freelancing is 100 percent worth it, but it’s not always easy.”
I’m pretty sure no one will tell you it’s the easiest path, especially when you’re starting out, but the benefits of freelancing are so worth it! (As I’m typing this, my two-year-old is sitting on my lap. How cool is that!?)
It does get easier over time. And growth happens so much faster when you get the right support from others. Do yourself a favor and read The Power of the Other. Then, like Dr. Cloud says, “Go to Corner Four.”
Have you experienced the growth that comes from a “Corner Four” relationship or have you read any of Dr. Cloud’s books? I’d love to chat about it in the comments below.