Freelancers currently account for 16 million workers, and recruiting firm MBO Partners predicts that number could rise to 65 million by 2020. Georgette Pascale, CEO of Pascale Communications, a virtual public-relations firm with employees across the U.S., has taken a deeper look at what makes women stand out within this budding profession.
Key freelancer traits
Georgette feels the most-important trait for a freelancer in general is responsiveness. “A freelancer, especially in a virtual business situation like mine, must be responsive to the media, the client and to me — taking care of business in a timely fashion. When you’re working all on your own, it’s imperative to keep everyone informed.”
Next, candor is high on Georgette’s list of must-have traits. “If you’re having a problem with a client, a colleague or even with me, speak up. Just because you may work on your own doesn’t mean that you have to, or are able to, fix every situation by yourself.”
Women bring unique skills to the table
Georgette states that in her opinion, women are more adept at creating relationships, shutting out distractions and dealing with daily crises. This doesn’t just apply to specific freelance fields but all types, as Georgette has yet to find a category or industry where women are not excelling. “Since women generally deal with a range of daily home-related crises, they take business crises in stride and handle them calmly and strategically.”
Additionally, women tend to be adept at creating their own social structure, relating back to the power of relationships in and out of the workplace. Since Georgette’s team is fully virtual, her staff has had to form relationships away from a lunch room or water cooler. “The women on my staff have found ways to bond and communicate about business and personal issues with each other throughout the day. There are distinct relationships between all 15 women on the team.”
Last, Georgette typically sees women attacking projects with “an unflinching laser focus,” completely committed to executing and getting things done. “Mentally we [women] are always on the clock,” Georgette says.
Advice for budding female freelancers
It’s 100 percent about networking. “If you don’t currently have a network, build one. That’s where your energies should be going at the start of a career and throughout a career,” Georgette advises.
Also, take the time to evaluate yourself to make sure you’re truly ready to be a freelancer. For example, in what environments do you typically work best? And if you’re at home all day, do you have a dedicated work space, or will you be itching to turn on the television? Do you need daily supervision, or are you a self-starter who likes to work independently? The answers to these questions may be more telling than you think about whether freelancing is right for you.
“If you really need the camaraderie that you find in an office setting, then freelancing, especially at home, may not be for you.”