One of the most difficult obstacles to overcome when you’re getting started as a freelancer or consultant is attracting the right clients, if any at all. It’s nothing like working the 9 to 5 where the work is there when you show up.
When I initially began, I had no idea where to look, how to approach them, or simply how to get started.
Relying on my personal network helped, but there’s only so much pestering you can do with your connections. I was searching for a new channel to tap into, that would allow me to find consistent clients I can reach out to.
A few days later, I got an email from AngelList, a platform connecting startups with angel investors.
Needle was a startup that I was running in the past, and we used AngelList with the sole purpose of raising money from outside investors.
But I also knew friends of mine with startups were not only using the platform to raise funding, but often to look for talent. So I decided to dig deeper.
Over the next 30 days, I did an experiment to leverage the platform not for its intended purpose, but to find consulting opportunities.
The results? I received over 30 consulting offers in 30 days.
Here’s how I did it, and how you can too.
Update your profile
The first step I took was update and customize my profile to the type of clients I was looking for. I knew the first thing any interested company would look at is my headline, then my experiences (thumbs up for new headshots!)
Start with your network
Then I headed over to Jobs → In your network where you can see the list of startups that are hiring within your connections.
The number of startups are limited (147 in my case), but I recommend starting here because you’ll have a better chance of getting hired through a warm connection than a cold one.
You can see who in your network is connected to the company when you click on the startup’s tab. You’ll be surprised at the number of companies that are hiring within your network!
Now we’re getting to the good stuff.
The beautiful thing about AngelList is the search filters. It allows you to narrow down your search to find exactly what type of companies you’re looking for.
For me, because I work remotely, I selected “Remote OK” under Location. From there I chose my role, and narrowed the number of companies down to last active and funding raised.
Last active is crucial because if a company has not been active for the last 30 days, it means they’re not using AngelList to hire or they’re not hiring at all. I also chose companies with a minimum of seed funding because it means they have the capital to invest in outside help.
Why not Series A or B? Well, the limiting factor with AngelList is that most of the startups that sign up are early stage companies, so your pool of options will be narrowed.
Voila. 96 startups that fit my exact needs.
Keep in mind that your search filters will be different than mine, depending on your needs. For example, you may want to have more of a face-to-face interaction with your clients and work locally in your city. More power to you!
You can also save your filter and have AngelList alert you each week when new jobs that match your filter appear.
Now that I had the list of companies I want to reach out to, it was time to roll up my sleeves and get to work! Did I mention how quick and easy it is to apply?
This is because unlike traditional job boards, you don’t have to fill out your information, upload your CV, cover letter or anything. AngelList is a platform for startups, and most smart founders don’t care about your shiny degree. They care about your skillsets, experience, and passion for their vision — all of which can be determined by taking a look at your profile and setting up a call
With one-click, I’ve delivered a message to the Sprout Social team that I was interested in working with them.
Then I repeated the process.
The process was so quick that before I knew it, I’ve applied to over 150 companies in less than 20 minutes.
Note: one thing I should mention is that you have the option of writing a personal message to each company. This isn’t something I did for the purpose of the experiment, but if you do want to invest some time to tell your story, I would say it’s worthwhile to increase your response rate.
After spending less than 30 minutes total on the platform, I closed my MacBook and got up to grab some Subway near my house (Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki, of course).
Fifteen days passed by, and I was disappointed to see that no one has responded to my requests. I started to have self-doubts thinking: was there something wrong with my profile? Maybe AngelList isn’t delivering my messages?!
When I logged back on to double-check which email I was registered with, I realized that I signed up to the platform with my old work email, which I haven’t checked in a few months!
When I logged into my email, I was astonished by what I saw.
It was way more than I could count manually, so when I checked on AngelList, I saw that 74 companies were interested in setting up a call.
I took the next 15 days to respond to the companies that interested me and set up calls to discuss further about the opportunities.
The result was that in less than 30 days, I received 32 offers from different companies around the world.
I cannot promise that each of you will get the same results by following my strategy. However, if you are looking for opportunities, I can tell you that it will be one of the most effective use of your 30 minutes ☺
Do you think AngelList could work for you and your business? Share your thoughts in the comments below.