Last week we had a look at some basics for job-hunters on Facebook.  There is a lot you can do for yourself to present a respectable profile, a great first impression, and avoid coming across as lazy, desperate or otherwise unsuitable.

Remember however, opportunities to earn might not have the word ‘job’ stamped upon them in capital letters.  Often in area-based groups people post who are simply seeking answers to questions or solutions to problems.  Perhaps YOU are the answer they seek.  Particularly in expat communities, many of the people I know who have survived the economic crisis and changing times effectively are those who see opportunities where others don’t, and who can find unexpected ways to add value.

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If your eyes are open, the opportunities to add value are everywhere online

If you see somebody asking a question along the lines of ‘how do I do something?’ (and the answer is something you can help with and it takes more than a Facebook comment to address), then you may have the opportunity to do some work on a freelance basis as a one-off – which could potentially lead to further work.

For example, I found a great client when someone posted about the best way to do an email newsletter to their customers.  The advice they were being offered in the comments thread ranged from the vaguely helpful to the downright illegal, but even the ones pointing in the right direction still couldn’t address the real issue – which was that the person asking didn’t understand the issues or how to use the software needed, and had no time or attention to research it and understand it for themselves.

Rather engage with issues of unsubscribe options and content management on Facebook, I simply made a brief comment that I could help him with this and would be in touch.

Then I found their contact details and emailed a quick outline proposal, which lead to a meeting, followed by a contract to develop a detailed social media and content creation strategy for their chain which they are still using today.  They also recommended me to others requiring similar solutions, but who also want to apply their efforts to the business they know best and outsource aspects of their marketing communications to a trusted supplier.

I am sure it helped that I was already a known regular contributor in that Facebook group, offering quick tips and advice on a range of business questions – which I always addressed in a professional and non-judgemental way, whenever I saw the opportunity to add value to a conversation, or recommend and introduce people who could help each other out when things were outside of my sphere of expertise.

What about you? What do you know, that you can help with?  Have you got a passion you would like to bring to market?  And what ‘outside the box’ opportunities could social media represent?

I know somebody whose photo-art business ideas were suddenly crystallised and given a huge leg-up when they saw someone they didn’t know advertising on a Facebook group, about a new magazine they were launching.

She started talking to the editor, and having initially thought this was just a low-risk and low-cost opportunity to advertise her business, she wound up writing a regular column for them.  This not only gave her a regular platform to showcase her creative work, it made her the go-to person locally for all digital art questions and answers.

She now has a busy website of her own, and printers and other suppliers pay her to advertise there, because of her reputation online. She promotes the magazine to her Facebook group, and this has also lead her to design work and product creation for other local businesses who have advertised with the magazine.

These two stories have in common that Facebook was the initial window into the need, the opening point of contact.  This enabled both parties to check each other out – yes this appears to be a genuine local person, whose posts I have spotted around the place, they are who they appear to be.

But the conversation in both cases quickly moved away to private messaging and face-to-face meetings, because people’s business dealings are commercially sensitive, and because people do business with people – not ‘profiles’.

In the case of the photographer, before the Facebook connection was made she didn’t even have an active business.  She had the personal passion and undeniable talent and creativity, but paid the rent doing something far more mundane, seeing her photo art as a hobby.  She still works part time for someone else, but she is also the kind of person who will always have multiple irons in the fire, interests on the go and new ideas to follow.

The online social world was made for renaissance souls like us, the dots are there for the joining.  What can you do, what value can you add, what needs can you fulfil?  Can you do it well enough that someone will pay you today to solve their problems? Or can you leverage the passion and experience you already have using online tools, to build your reputation and credibility for the next big event in your career portfolio?

Let me know your plans and success stories! info@costaconnected.com /@casslar

Costa Connected, for Costa Blanca News, June 13th2014,  ©Maya Middlemiss,  Casslar Consulting SL

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