Posts Tagged ‘Finding freelancers’

What has LinkedIN done for you lately?

January 15, 2010

After much networking over the last two years I’ve now reached LinkedIN’s 500+ connections. I’ve followed up every new meeting with a personally edited LinkedIN connection email. Was it worth all the time and effort? It was. The time investment  has demonstrably helped our startup  more than once. It’s also re-connected me with many long-lost colleagues.

Many people have said to me that LinkedIN‘s only good for recruitment. They’re right, it’s great for that. However its great for other things too. LinkedIN has help us find freelancers. We needed a web developer and designer last year for our Web site monitoring application startup Aware Monitoring. Without my LinkedIN connection to the lovely Mel Kirk, made after meeting her at the FOWA conference in 2007, we might never have found Luc Pestille. And Luc did a wonderful job for us 🙂 Before choosing to work with Luc we looked at 11 other developer designers, many found via LinkedIN.

LinkedIN is excellent for helping to understand and profile people.  Whether they are business partners, suppliers, competitors or potential customers. The information brings great intelligence quickly and effectively. It’s now so easy to find out who’s the CTO or CEO of a company. A very useful tool to identity new contacts within potential customers. LinkedIN also helps maintain weak tie relationships and friendships when people change jobs. I’ve spoken, emailed and met-up with many old friends and colleagues since using LinkedIN.

LinkedIN have cleverly made it worth your while putting the effort into growing your network. More connections brings a greater visibility to 2nd/ 3rd degree contacts. Your loose tie network grows!  In theory I now have over 5million 3rd degree connections.The founder and former CEO Reid Hoffman has tapped really well into the ideas of ‘six degrees of separation‘, ‘network effects‘ and ‘business social networking‘. Hoffman and LinkedIN have done great job in making a  useful business social service!

UPDATE: Ian Brodie and Webex have carried out a poll on ‘How to Use LinkedIN to win new business: poll results’ – these interesting and useful results echo my personal findings.

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5 Startup Steps to finding & working with freelancers

April 7, 2009

As there are just two of us (Simon Oxley – my co-founder and I) in our startup we need outside help. We’d love to employ full time permanent staff but without external funding or product traction it’s too risky. The challenge is to find high quality external resources and keeping them focused on the project. Find the right fit/match and your onto a winner. This takes time and a bit of luck.

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Finding a good freelancer takes effort, requires teamwork & can be risky

So far we found freelance and company resources through our friends, Elance, 99Designs and LinkedIn. My friend Martin Wright at the new Web2.0 Surgery has asked me to post on our experiences working with freelancers:

  1. Where to find help? – As a startup we don’t have a long list of trusted suppliers. Trust takes time and experience working together. The next best thing is to ask your friends or rely on marketplace reputation e.g. Elance. We’ve been making lots of new friends at networking events over the last year. Many of these contacts are now on our LinkedIn contacts. Through LinkedIn we identified 12 local freelancers for our front-end web design/dev work. In the end we chose Luc Pestille because he had the right skills and understood our needs.
  2. Choosing right person? Keegan is one of the best freelancers we’ve worked with. We found Keegan through 99Designs and used him for our logo, business cards, Launch page and a new blog for Bootstrapping. Why did it work so well? We’ve now experienced working with logo designers and Keegan is an experienced designer with flare. We explained succinctly what we wanted and he understood our needs accurately. A good freelancer really gets under the skin of the requirement and turns it into a great product.
  3. How much to pay? – The saying goes “If you pay peanuts, you get monkeys.” – James Goldsmith. As a Bootstrappping startup costs need to be kept down but cut too much and the job maybe be badly done. The deal needs to be a Win/Win outcome for both customer and supplier. Also remember that money is not the only motivator. If the company/freelancer is genuinely interested in the project and passionate about the work they will do a good job.
  4. Rules of engagement – My co-founder Simon has done a fantastic job in the architecture and prototyping of our new website monitoring app. Unfortunately there is only one of Simon. So we’ve used an offshore company to do much of the bulky development work. All projects should have a job specification/scope in place including  project timescales, a payment schedule and copy write/IP transference.
  5. Keeping focus – It is always useful to meet the people you are working with. This brings a personal aspect to the relationship which helps to work problems through. However its not always possible to met face to face when off-shoring.  Positive feedback is vital to keeping freelancers motivated. A note of warning: don’t interfere with the creative process once work starts. If you have done your homework and found the right resource get out the way. Otherwise you may do more harm than good.

We’ve benefited using freelancer by finding expert resources and only paying for them when we’ve needed their help. Its important to get alternative quotes because costs vary a great deal and be prepared to pay the going rate. A word of warning: don’t loose too much internal knowledge of your product. This knowledge brings the flexibility required to rapidly respond to customer needs and the ability to innovate ahead of the competition.