Self-employed people are consistently searching for new and innovative methods to get clients. Inevitably, one comes across a company or service that offers to serve as a project broker for free agents, independent consultants, contractors, and clients. This article explains how these services work, experience I had, and items to consider when evaluating these companies and services.
Why are independent consultants, free agents, and freelancers drawn to these companies and services? There are two main reasons.
First, these people either do not know how or do not like to market their services to others. The idea of potential clients coming to them is very enticing since it requires little effort. You just have to sit back and wait for assignments to be posted. When you see an assignment that fits your experience and expertise, all you have to do is submit a proposal and then wait for a decision.
Second, these companies offer a means to broaden your exposure in marketplace. The thinking goes that if enough people are aware of services I offer, I'll get a client.
Now, let's talk about how these services work.
In order to view a list of projects, submit proposals, and ultimately get clients, you need to "join" or "sign up" with a particular company or service. Generally, this process requires 3 things:
1. You provide detailed information about your expertise and services you offer. This information is placed on a web site and is accessible to potential clients and other free agents looking for joint venture partners or subcontractors.
2. You pay a fee that is billed either monthly or annually. This fee gives you access to database of projects that are currently listed. For each assignment you get through company or service, you may have to pay a percentage of your project's total cost as a "finder's fee."
3. You provide references that potential clients can contact to inquire about your work. The company or service you join may want to verify your references to make sure you're as competent as you describe. There is a possibility your references may have to fill out a questionnaire or participate in a phone survey regarding your work and professionalism too.
Once you've provided all relevant information about your expertise and services, your references are verified, and you've paid appropriate fees, "sign-up" process is complete. You are now free to search current project database, submit proposals, and hopefully get clients!
Some years ago I signed up with one of these services for one year. I will not disclose company's name but here's what I learned:
1. You can sign up with these services or companies even if you don't meet all of their stated requirements. When I was contemplating joining a particular company, I didn't have enough previous clients company required. However, when I explained my situation, I was permitted to join. Remember, organization doesn't make money if they turn you away.