I just landed a new client this week (woo hoo!), which got me thinking about the common saying, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.”
Looking back at my clients over the past 10 years, I can definitely say that’s held true for me. Now that I’m fully self-employed (as opposed to freelancing part-time), who I get work from and how I get work is really critical to my happiness and survival.
I feel so lucky to be working with clients who are also my friends. They put the “bright spot” in Bright Spot Studio (cheesy, I know, but it’s true!). A couple were clients first who then became friends during the course of a project, but most were friends or colleagues first who then became paying clients. These amazing people like me, trust me and let me do my best work. Here’s a graphic mapping my clients (orange circles) and my former employers (green circles) with the innermost circle representing my current clients. The evolution of our relationship is represented clockwise, radiating from the center.
Of the 14 clients listed here, six came via the workplace (43%), four were close friends (29%), two were former classmates (14%) and only one (7%) was somebody I didn’t know before working with her (I saw Lisa’s gorgeous jewelry at a craft show, introduced myself and asked if she needed a website). What does this tell me, and, ergo, what should it tell you? Well, that relationships matter — a lot. This holds true whether you’re looking for clients, a new job or business opportunities. While it’s possible I will find my next great client by launching a big advertising campaign, I think my chances are much better if I cultivate my own social network. And something tells me that I’ll have a lot more fun.