This morning my own personal story of reverse outsourcing was featured on ABC’s Good Morning America. Reported by workplace contributor, Tory Johnson, the segment highlighted the fact that a growing number of American freelancers are now working for overseas companies. On a personal note, it was very exciting being featured on a national news show, and I want to thank Tory for her interest in my story.
In my case, I have worked for companies in India, China, Singapore, Canada, Germany, the UK, France, Israel, New Zealand, Australia, Brazil, Panama, and even Anguilla. I consider my global presence one of the most interesting aspects of my work.
I do believe that the trend towards reverse outsourcing will continue. Companies around the world still want to market to Americans despite the lagging economy, and sites such as Elance allow us freelancers to do this. To be successful in reverse outsourcing, I’ve discovered a few helpful tips. Here they are:
Have an Understanding of the World
The fact that I’ve traveled internationally has been a huge asset in working with overseas companies. I have found that I can develop a much quicker connection with someone when I can say that I’ve visited where they are located. It helps build rapport and trust and has even earned me new business. When I haven’t visited the country of a business that I’m working with, I educate myself on the basics so that I can talk articulately. I ask lots of questions and always want to have a genuine interest in where they are located. I also share with them a little bit about my hometown, too!
Be Flexible with Time
No, I don’t work 9 to 5. My schedule varies primarily because I’m taking care of my boys, but also because I’m dealing with clients in multiple time zones. I do my best to accommodate their work hours within reason. This doesn’t mean that I have to always answer my phone at 2 AM, but it does mean that I have to do my part to make myself available even if it’s off-hours.
Respect Cultural Differences
Every country has different holidays, customs, preferences, and ways to do business. It’s my job as the contractor to develop an understanding of these differences so that my overseas clients feel respected. I never want a client to feel like they’re dealing with someone who doesn’t “get” them or their culture. It’s also my job to work with them and bridge the gap between them and their target markets.
Use Technology to Get the Job Done
While I’m not the biggest fan of texting and talking on my cell phone, I am an avid user of IM, VoIP, project management software, and email when I’m working. In fact, I couldn’t do my job without these technologies. Particularly in the case of overseas companies, technology is essential.
Have a Contract
Contracts benefit both parties and are equally necessary when dealing with someone local or someone on a different continent. A good contract will spell out the scope of work, timeframe for completion of milestones, and payment schedule. Sites such as Elance generate basic contracts that protect both contractors and clients. For work not executed through these sites, there are many contract templates and examples that can be found online. In the case of overseas clients, it’s also really important to spell out how payment will be generated. Sending a check in the mail isn’t an option, so a bank wire transfer or payment via PayPal are the best alternatives.
Here’s the segment on Good Morning America if you missed it.