Build a Lead Generating Network

You’ve been looking for clients. It’s just that most of the people in your network are family or fellow “enterprise” type programmers without any actual work to give. It’d be nice if you had a network filled with friends who would help you find leads. Who, if you mentioned you were looking for work, would go out and tweet:

But how do you find these kind of friends? Do you network? Gross! The thought of dressing up to shake hands with entrepreneurs and recruiters sounds exhausting. And if you did add them to your “network” would they really have your best interest at heart?

Stay Away from Recruiters {#stay-away-from-recruiters} Quick story: I got a voicemail from recruiter the other day. The following is an excerpt from the message:

“I wanted to see how things were going for you at… uhm.. I guess that.. uh LLC and touch base” The recruiter didn’t even know the name of my business! Or had a clue what I did. There is no way I would have ever entrusted them with helping me find clients. These aren’t the kind of people you want to network with!

You Want People in Your Network Who Can Brag About Your Skills {#you-want-people-in-your-network-who-can-brag-about-your-skills} What you really want are people who can speak to your skills. Who know you’re the go to person for deciding whether a project needs React or Angular. But how do you find these people?

5 Places for Developers to Meet Other Developers {#5-places-for-developers-to-meet-other-developers} Since I’m a web developer, I’ve found it easiest to meet and “network” with other developers in the following places:

  1. Local User Groups. You’ll meet other people in different stages of their career: they may just be starting out or could be owner of a local software company. Be sure to talk to everyone and share your aspirations. It can be scary, but in my experience if you put yourself out there, people will be very willing to help. Be sure to return the favor since social capital is what keeps these groups running.
  2. Slack channels. Example: In my own little Slack channel, if someone had a question, Pete had the answer. From Pete’s perspective, he was just happy to be helpful to the community. From everyone else’s perspective he became a friend and invaluable resources. When Pete announced he wanted to start freelancing, four or five people in the channel immediately booked his time for a year out.
  3. Conferences. People at conferences spend their time and money to enhance their careers. So you know they mean business! lol Seriously though, half the leads I’ve gotten have come from friends I’ve met at conferences.
  4. Hosting workshops. These are perfect because they instantly set you up as an authority. And you don’t have to be the host, you could be a volunteer teacher/mentor. I once got a lead from a consultancy that was hosting a workshop. The connection wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t had volunteered.
  5. Open Source Projects. This is a great way to network with people by doing things rather than talking. If you’re in the good graces of a project maintainer/owner and they approach you with a lead, you’ll have actual social proof of your work. It’s killing two birds with one stone!

Fill Your Network with Your Peers {#fill-your-network-with-your-peers} You’re filling your network with your peers. People who know you’re the best fix for a particular problem. This is a

huge improvement over your Mom telling random strangers to give you a call since you “know computers”. And when you finally do need to look for work, you’ll have an army of friends ready to help you out.