Freelance tips & tricks
3 min read

How to stand out as a freelancer

August 18, 2022
— By
Working remotely, be it full-time or freelance, comes with a completely different dynamic than your usual office environment. These changes are only exacerbated when you are new in your role, getting on video conferences with unfamiliar team members, and cannot just pop down the hallway to ask a question. 

In recent years, companies have gotten more and more comfortable with having staff work remotely but it doesn’t always been that they have processes and policies in place. 
 
Generally speaking, working remotely offers just as many advantages and opportunities for success if you don’t let your work environment be an excuse. 
 
If you have just started a new remote role, are about to, or are considering making the switch, here are some tips to take into consideration to help you not only stand out but excel in your role. 
 

Connect on LinkedIn. 

Before beginning your role or in the first few days, add your team members and immediate supervisors on LinkedIn. Include a brief message with your connection request like, “Looking forward to working together on XYZ project!” so that they associate your name with your new role. 
 
Join groups and follow important people in your industry so you not only stay up to date on industry knowledge but can share articles in meetings or other conversations. A quick email or chat saying “I thought you might find this interesting” is a great way to demonstrate your abilities and interests beyond your job description. 
 
Plus, if you are a contract worker, once the project ends you will have a bunch of new industry connections to lean on when you are searching for new work. 
 

Introduce yourself. 

During your first week or so, you will often be promoted to introduce yourself in meetings and on phone calls. But once those awkward few days have passed, it might slip your mind even when working with someone new. You might not always have the opportunity to meet with someone face to face, so it is important to take advantage of the opportunity when you do. Take initiative and introduce yourself before being asked. It feels less awkward when you have practiced your one- or two-sentence introduction beforehand. 
 
Don’t be afraid to make or participate in small talk - let your coworkers get to know you beyond your job title! 
 

Request 1:1 meetings. 

One of the biggest advantages that an office environment offers is the ability to poke your head in and ask what a colleague is working on. It may feel fake, but requesting 1:1 meetings is the best way to mimic that collaborative environment, help you learn the ropes, and offer value to your colleagues should they need your help in the future. 
 
The purpose of these meetings is for you to listen more than talk, so limit them to 15 or 20 minutes and always ask before sending off a random calendar invite. Though we are big proponents of face-to-face meetings, offer a phone call if you think they would enjoy that more. 
 

Turn that camera on. 

As mentioned, a face-to-face meeting is the best way to help new colleagues get to know you. With Zoom fatigue a real phenomenon, it can be tempting to turn the camera off and keep your pajamas on. In meetings where you are brand new or are expected to speak, having your face on the screen is crucial. Nonverbal cues and interpreting emotion are important parts of interacting with others and will help you feel more connected. 
 
Seeing your face often will also help you be top of mind for your colleagues when they need help, a new opportunity arises, or a promotion is on the table. Make sure you have appropriate lighting in your workspace. 
 
Just don’t forget to schedule breaks in your day to step away from the computer. 
 

Ask for an organizational chart. 

In a typical office environment, you can use cues like size and location of office or dress code to figure out the hierarchy. 

In a remote role, ask your human resources department if they can share a copy of the organizational chart with you so that you can better understand the business structure and confirm that you are making connections with the right people. 

The chart may also be available as part of the organization’s HR software, so you may want to look there first if you have access. 
 

Keep in touch with your supervisor. 

Proactive communication with your supervisor is going to be one of your keys to success. Offer to schedule a weekly or biweekly check-in to talk about what you have accomplished, what is coming up for you, and any outstanding questions you have. Or, if you don’t feel like a full meeting is necessary, provide a weekly update in writing. Either way, establishing a pattern will help you stave off issues as they come up. 
 
This step will also help you figure out your supervisor’s workflow and preferred communication method, so you can ensure you are always on the same page. Follow their lead; if they prefer chat messages instead of email, make note of that. If they would like to be copied on certain emails, don’t forget to include them. 
 
Don’t be afraid to ask questions, offer new ideas, and share your perspective. Your job is to make your supervisor’s job easier, so speak up! 
 

Look and act professionally. 

It’s all about the little things. Figure out what the workplace dress code is, and make sure you mimic it when you are on camera. Be on time to virtual meetings and ensure your technology is all working as it should. Come prepared to meetings with an agenda, updates, or notes as necessary. 
 
Many remote employees share difficulty in setting formal “working hours;” the best practice here is to be available and working during the same hours as your colleagues, even if there is a time difference. Be respectful of weekends and off-hours. 

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