Some freelancers prefer to work directly with the end-client, without a recruitment agency or third party in between. The ‘end-client’ may also be an agency such as advertising, marketing agency or consultancy which tends to work with freelancers a lot.

This means you have to work a bit harder to build your own network. One way to do this is to set up a three tier contact system: an electronic database of names. A Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool can help, for example or (the latter includes an integrated bookkeeping and invoicing system).

Tier one: hottest prospects

Your first tier of contacts should include every person and organisation you know who is personally capable of offering work. Include everyone you have ever worked for in the past. This list represents your hottest prospects. Contact them directly. Tell them you’ve gone freelance and a bit about what you’re doing. If you haven’t already got a recommendation or testimonial from them, ask them to send you one as a) it will remind them why they liked working with you and b) you can use it to market yourself to other clients. This first tier has the greatest potential to get you going quickly, and to keep you going profitably for many years.

Tier two: people who could refer you to someone else

Your second tier should include everybody you know who might know someone else who could offer you work. Dismiss no one - include people you haven't spoken to in months or even years. Drop these people an email with a brief update on what you’re doing and ask them if they know anyone who might benefit from your service. If you use LinkedIn, you could also connect with them on that – this helps you stay in touch.

Tier three: wish list of clients you would like to work with

Your third tier should include the people or organisations that you do not know personally but would want to work with - they might include the leading companies in your industry, or competitors of companies you no longer work with. This is your wish list of possible clients. Use directories, libraries, guides or whatever resources are available. You can then plan a targeted mailing or phone campaign (see the next section on promotional techniques).

Finding Contracts