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What is the protocol for naming clients you have worked for on a website?(6 Posts)
I am starting my own business, it is a bit complicated so bear with me!
I am self employed. I am employed on a daily basis by companies who have been employed to provide a service. For example Marks and Spencer have asked xxx Ltd to provide a service. Xxx Ltd get me to actually provide the service and pay me a daily rate.
I guess my client is xxx Ltd, not Marks and Spencer.
My question is, if I set myself up as a similar business to xxx, could I say a previous client was.Marks and Spencer? Or any of the 100's of huge companies I have worked for in the last 15 years?
The idea of setting up my own business is to have a bit more control over what I do, also to get more of the fee. Currently xxx Ltd keep 60% of what they charge!
I know I absolutely can't say I have worked for xxx Ltd in the past. They would threaten legal action.
Thanks for any help.
I think you know the answer! You can't put the companies that you have been sub-contracting for. If a potential client wants to know what you've done, tell them by all means but don't put it 'out there' in the public sphere. I don't put client names on my website anyway, cos I work in small industry and don't want them to be poached. Can you make wording more ambiguous and refer to 'international corporations' and 'household name brands'?
Yes, I suspected that! I have a huge wealth of experience but I really do think I might struggle to get clients through a website, as it will look like the company I create has had no clients at all.
I have no idea how to get clients actually. I can't use my contacts, as this would be seen as poaching. How do people go about getting business in? Cold calling? That fills me with horror!
The was we do it (more than just a single free lancer, but the same principal that we get subcontracted by a larger org) would be to have wording like: "assisting M&S created their ...", or "I developed expertise with blah subject while working with M&S's widget development team on their foobar project." So you never actually say you worked for them (ie, employed, or sub contracted)... but you most certainly worked with them. The fact that you were contracted through XYZ is neither her nor there (and to be honest, most people likely to hire you are going to be aware of the commercial realities of sub contracting markets....).
This is where something like linkedin is invaluable - if you make sure that you make connections with the people you're working with at M&S (for example), and then when you leave that project you actually ask those people if they would just write a one or two sentence endorsement, that gets around the issue of XYZ Ltd...
Re getting clients - You're unlikely to get clients from your website, much more likely to get them through word of mouth and personal recommendation. That's why people spend so much time making connections (especially people selling their own time). Websites are useful, but usually to allow someone to find out more background information about you, of validate your skills (eg, when chatting with a potential customer, you could say something like "Oh yes, I wrote an article about that the other day - you can download a copy from my website")
Could you join a local business breakfast group group or other local networking organisation? That's usually a pretty good route for expanding your contacts. Or how about contacting some of the individuals at the 100's of huge companies you've worked for, and just tell them you're branching out on your own, and you're offering xyz service - could you meet them for coffee to see if they can a) make use of your skills, or b) give you a reference...
I run a business which would be the xxx Ltd in your example, and if my freelancers did what you are thinking about (naming my clients in their websites without saying that they did the work through my company) I get very angry indeed.
As you say, you have no idea about how to get clients, the idea of cold calling fills you with dread... it is this skill and expertise that has made the xxx Ltd company successful enough to win work with eg M and S and that then enables them to cascade the work to you. And this is why they get their 60%.
If running a successful business that is able to provide work to freelancers was easy, everyone would be doing it. But it isn't, it takes a huge amount of skill and time.
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