Freelance CAD Job Networking Tips
Freelance CAD work involves a series of professional relationships. This is a natural networking environment, because your services are valuable to a large range of people. For freelancers, there are some extremely positive elements for both career advancement and new business.
The Freelance CAD Network
A freelance CAD network can look a bit chaotic at first, but the business and professional relationships are multifaceted. The basic network is:
- Contractors: Outsourcers of design work like architects, industrial design companies, construction companies, toolmakers, engineering firms, etc.
- Commercial interests: Derived from the contractors, these are the end users, and they’re also the demand sources. They can be anything from kitchen manufacturers to aviation designers.
- Professional associates: Business related contacts. These are sources of new business by association.
- Advertisers and marketing- CAD is a major presentation feature in design, and the graphic work has to be done by professionals.
You may or may not have direct exposure to these parties through your contracts, but this is the real client base. To generate business, you provide information about your services.
Operating a Freelance CAD network
Many of these people are in regular contact, and with others the communication channels are always available. This is practically conversation-level networking, and it’s particularly useful when people are looking for services.
At basic contact level, you can simply send them an update on services with some promotional materials about your work. This is not an intrusive approach, and for those in the industry, particularly former clients, it’s useful information. You can expect to see some interest in targeted information related to their businesses.
Developing a Freelance CAD Network
The great advantage of CAD is that it is absolutely essential in all areas of design. The demand for CAD is huge, particularly 3D CAD, and 3D CAD modeling and presentation work. There are various ways of expanding your network:
- Cold canvassing: For experts and specialist designers, this is a very strong option. You can cold canvass on the basis of your previous work, and this will put you in direct contact with industry majors.
- Advertising your services: This very basic approach is usually ignored by professional CAD designers, and it’s a serious omission. If you advertise your design services in targeted sites, the cost is minimal, and you can find a lot of new business through a passive source. This can not only generate business, but extend your network progressively.
(A classic case of freelance advertising is iFreelance, a big US freelancers-only site. You can put your profile on this site, advertise all your services, and link direct to your own site for promotional purposes. Don’t be surprised to get inquiries from around the world, because this is a very high profile site.)
- Professional associations: These are a good way of staying up to the minute with your market, and keeping track of career opportunities. Professional forums are also good for information about issues in your field.
Networking is the best, most effective method of marketing your services. As a freelancer, you may find you get more work than you can handle, but that’s the price of success.