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Chapter
6

Use Slack to source clients and build community

It’s easy to overlook using Slack communities as a way to find freelance clients. But since its founding in 2009, Slack has grown as a way to connect with people in smaller, professional spaces. Slack communities aren’t full of ads, and typically have less spam as they are moderated more. 

Slack is a space that you should leverage to connect with potential clients, learn about different industries, and find freelance opportunities.

Choose Slack groups with care

There are hundreds of public Slack communities for every interest. There are Slack communities dedicated to tech startups, remote workers, software development, nonprofits, and even freelancing — and these Slack communities may be where you find your next client.

You need to consider where your ideal client would spend time and where your time is best spent. Finding the Slack communities that work for you may take a little trial and error as you discover which ones work for you. 

Personally, I’m a member of seven Slack communities. I use them when I have time, and often see freelance opportunities posted in them that I don’t see elsewhere. That said: you don’t need to join every Slack group out there!

  • Search for Slack communities. Use Slofile or Airtable’s list of Slack communities to identify the best Slack communities for you. For example, if you are interested in working with breweries and restaurants, you want to join Slack communities that include food professionals. If you’re looking for more communities than you can find in either of these databases, run a Google search with keywords like “Slack community entrepreneur” or “Slack community women.”

  • Be creative with the Slack communities you choose to join! They don’t have to be directly linked to your ideal client. For example, Slack communities for freelancers and remote workers often include people looking for freelancers. 

  • Remember, you’re not getting married. You can always join a Slack group, discover that it’s not for you, and leave.

Respect the purpose of each channel

Every Slack community you join will have a specific set of rules in place for every channel (message thread) within it. Pay attention to the purpose of each channel before you start posting.

  • Say hello in an introduction channel. Every Slack community I’ve seen has a channel dedicated to introductions. Use your elevator pitch here to introduce yourself to the community! Include that you’re available to work with clients. Make it even friendlier with a photo of your pet or sharing a hobby!

  • Add value to different channels. Many Slack communities will have channels dedicated to sharing resources, professional development, and other specific subtopics. They’ll often have a job-specific channel that’s home to a different job and freelance postings. Look for ways to add value to these channels. For example, if you’ve written a blog post about the best marketing practices for small businesses, share it in a #resources channel.

  • Contribute to the conversation with questions and answers. Obviously, you’re joining these Slack groups to find work, but the conversations in these communities are the most valuable aspect of them. Ask thoughtful questions in the appropriate channels. Answer questions with considerate replies and resources whenever possible. As you add value and authenticity to conversations, other people in these Slack communities will start seeing you as an expert.

  • Read and abide by community guidelines. Every Slack community has rules or a code of conduct in place to make spaces safe for everyone. Before posing a question, make sure that you’re in the correct channel.

  • Don’t over-promote yourself. Many Slack communities will have Slack channels dedicated to self-promotion. Avoid being self-promotional constantly and make sure you’re only promoting in spaces when it’s appropriate.

Here’s what my introduction looks like:

Honestly, you never know who is following you! And you never know when someone will need your services. When you’re looking for work, share a post on Twitter and LinkedIn and in Slack groups. Communicate what you do and what you’re looking for.

Example: “Hi! I’m Kaitlyn and I write about pets and all the reasons why we love them. I’m available for copywriting, ghostwriting, and editorial opportunities! Take a look at my portfolio [link] and reach out to [email].

Example: “Hello! Starting [date], I’m available to take on work with [ideal client]. I create [type of services]. Reach out to [email] and take a look at what I do [portfolio].

Use Slack to look for freelance work

Use Slack as a search engine, network with professionals, and set up keyword alerts to find freelance work.

  • Set up your profile. Add a professional photo and your pronouns to your Slack profile. In the “title” section, add a short line about yourself and your contact information.

  • Filter results with your searches. Slack makes it easy to search and filter results by people, channels, and messages. Search for relevant topics and keywords to find different conversations and job postings.

  • Use keyword notifications. Save a little time by setting up notifications that alert you to topics you’re interested in or freelance opportunities. 

    • Tap your profile icon in the top right corner and select “preferences.” Then under the “notify me about” section select “direct messages, mentions and keywords.” Under “my keywords,” type in keywords you’re interested in, like “freelance writer” or “hiring.”

  • Be thoughtful with how you spend your time. Like any social media, it’s easy to lose track of time scrolling. If you find Slack is more of a time drain than an asset, set a timer and limit how often you use it.

  • Comment on other people’s posts in Slack. This is just like connecting with people on social media. If someone asks a question you can answer, share your advice.

Recap

Your Slack checklist:

  • Be thoughtful about how you choose Slack channels

  • Introduce yourself in the channels you join

  • Engage with others in the channels

  • Respect the rules of each community

  • Set up notifications for freelancing gigs

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