Have you ever given any real thought to how you secure work? If you trace backward and consider each step of the process that had to happen to get you there, you’ll most likely discover that you have one or more┬áprocesses that you go through over and over.

A “work funnel” diagram is basically a visual representation of this process and each stage in it. You might have just one funnel, or you might have multiple funnels, depending on your profession and how you acquire work.

Getting completely clear on what these work funnel processes look like for you will arm you with the knowledge to set specific work goals for the future and take clear actions towards achieving those goals.

Your funnel process may just be a written list of steps, but I have found it helpful to write each stage of my process on an actual funnel graphic. In case you would like to do the same, I have made a simple PDF of such a graphic that you can download and print.

The top level of your funnel is where you want to start. This is the largest and most broad group of potential sources of work that you encounter through your networking efforts.

For this blog post, I’ll use myself as an example. At the top level of one of my funnels are all the people whom I encounter at networking events. Being a web designer who attends quite a few business-to-business and general networking groups in my area, many of my prospective clients come from this population.

In my funnel, the next level down includes the “one-on-one” people – the folks who I end up getting together with outside of the initial networking event. These are the people who I want to see again, whether it’s because they express some frustration with their website, because we serve a similar clientele, work in partnering industries, or just have a lot in common and enjoy each other’s company.

From this point in the funnel, the relationship could move in one of three different directions; prospective client, deliberately maintained relationship, or a general connection through social media. For example, if during our one-on-one meeting the person expresses interest in working together on their website, I move them into the prospective client funnel. Or, if they don’t need my professional services at this time but are clearly a well-connected person who may be a great contact in the future, I make a note of staying in touch with them and maintaining a relationship. And finally, if there’s no reason for maintaining a real connection with the person, I’ll just connect with them on social media.

The possibilities for what a work funnel can look like are as diverse as the industries we work in, and yours will most likely be unique.

After you’ve finished constructing your work funnel diagram, then comes the fun part. A great next step is to create specific goals for how many people you want to have on each level of your funnel at any given time (or per week). For this process, I suggest starting from the bottom of the funnel and moving upward. I’ll again use myself as an example. Let’s say that I want to acquire one new prospective client every week that I meet as a result of attending networking events. Over time I figure out roughly how many one-on-ones per week it takes me to generate a prospective client. And from there I can move to the top level of my funnel and figure out how many people I want to be meeting at networking events each week to reach my goal.

When you’re an entrepreneur running your own business, systemizing your processes is the name of the game, and creating a work funnel diagram or a series or work funnel diagrams can help you to get crystal clear on how exactly you acquire clients and what you can do more of to land the number of jobs you want. Have fun!

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