How to Find Local Talent for Your Small Business

Image by Andrew Neel -  Unsplash

Image by Andrew Neel - Unsplash

Could your city, town, or village have hidden local talent?

You bet! If you are having trouble finding superb professionals with amazing skills in creative services or technology, you might be looking in the wrong places...


Have you ever hired an agency, consultant, or a freelancer who is located outside of your area...or even country? Was it because you couldn't find someone nearby who was up to snuff? You are not the first! It happens because sometimes those wildly talented people like to hang out in places you may not know where to look. I know, I know–we need to be easier to find. But we are small too, just like you, and the Internet is a big place. Turn your search into a fruitful one that will meet your needs plus support a fellow local entrepreneur.

The Scene.
You are a small business or an individual that needs some help. You need top-notch quality, decent prices, and while you have already asked for referrals or you checked the local Chamber listing, you can't seem to find what you are looking for. You take to Google. Google will bring up local listings of agencies and other physical businesses, great! Well, if you have a budget to hire an agency then your journey ends there. However, like most of my own clients, and many indie-run businesses, there's just not enough mullah in the bank account for that level of ____________(insert creative need here). What do you do next!? Rush to Fiverr? Craigslist? Facebook?

The Solution.
In the rush to hire and get the job done, don't feel that there isn't that special person nearby to work with. If you are willing to make a reasonable but affordable investment–let me tell you, there are dozens of lovely freelancers, consultants, and home-based pros who are DYING to work with you. Best of all, they could very well be right in your hometown. Try these tips:

Facebook: The Go-to Spot
All that talk that "Facebook isn't popular anymore" is hooey! I happen to be certain that business professionals use Facebook a lot and it's not going away. It's how I was able to network and meet up with fellow entrepreneurs for events and groups. Bingo!

Now there are tons of Facebook groups out there that will supply a great selection of creative professionals. All you have to do is join, post (be sure to follow group rules!), and wait for them to come to you. Okay, say you're from New Mexico (like maw) or maybe from Montana or Nebraska, and you are used to "slim pickings"(i.e. the population of your entire state fits into the Dallas metro). All you need to do is say: "Hey! I am looking for a graphic designer in New Mexico (ideally near Albuquerque). I need a logo design and some brochures made. Is there any Duke City peeps here?"*

*Customize of course, to your local slang :)

You will be SO surprised at how many people will " show up"! Even if that person isn't from that area or place, maybe they lived there, maybe they know someone. Such an easy way to quickly find some options.

Some group suggestions (where I hang too):

- Think Creative Collective
 (international creatives)
- Elle & Company Community
(probably international, more about Squarespace web design)
- Tuesdays Together - New Mexico
(local chapter, but search for your own state!)
- Coffee + Creatives / Albuquerque
- Las Cruces Think Tank
(localized, referrals)

Once you start joining some groups, Facebook will auto-suggest others that are similar. Be sure to search for local groups too.

HOT TIP: Be authentic! When looking for pros via digital means, be aware of how you appear online. There are lots of scams and well, questionable inquiries out there. Represent yourself in a genuine manner (a quality creative will do the same), be up front and you will be sure to attract the right candidate(s).

While there is no direct way of sifting through the millions of profiles, if you are active on Instagram, chances are you might have some followers who, in turn, follow a local creative. Make note of who they are following or interacting with. Search and follow hashtags to find profiles too.

#newmexico #nmtrue #landofenchantment #purenm #purenewmexico #igersnewmexico #newmexicotrue #westbysouthwest #newmexicolife #newmexicolove #nmgrammers #igersabq #instagrammersnm #nmnomad #abqnm #pureabq #albuquerque #abqlocal #trueabq #abq #dukecity #burque #riorancho #505life #the505 #abqcreatives

These are just a few of the hundreds of hashtags out there! Pay attention to hashtags that are popular in your specific area–every city or town has its own set of hashtags that locals use.

Sometimes I think Linkedin is super underutilized, especially in smaller cities. You can find important people and businesses there, not to mention a selection of creatives there too. It's also a good way to see how "professional" they might be. Just like Instagram, pay attention to connection recommendations or who your colleagues are "following" and "connecting" with.

Still an up and coming idea for many people, co-working spaces have the potential to "house" an array of freelancers and nomadic professionals. While not every freelancer or home-based pro desires to find themselves at a co-working space, it could be a nice hotspot to gain insight into the local talent pool and is a potential "hangout" spot for creative or tech freelancers.

Google Search.
While this is probably your first action–it may need to be saved for last. When looking for a freelancer or consultant-type professionals, not everyone will pop up so quickly in an geographical-based online search. When using Google, preference is given to businesses that have Google Business Listings. That means that the majority of them have a physical location. So you will probably see agencies first, and not necessarily the home-based professionals.

While I have been found by local clients through an online search–it's often linked to a specific keyword(s) I have used. Unless that person is constantly checking their SEO and keyword rankings, websites slip up and down in rank often when there is a lot of competition for that ranking. You might see their website on page 3 one day, then the next on page 5. Keywords like "graphic designer", "photographer", and "marketing" are highly competitive, so it's probably a challenge for that professional to gauge a good discoverability rate via a random Google Search. That's why lots of us have headed to social media as we have a better chance of being organically discovered.

Stop the autopilot.
There are quality professionals and talented freelancers out there that can't connect with every potential client nearby–not because their work isn't good enough, but because there is a disconnect in you finding them and vice versa, especially online. Many small businesses go on autopilot and if they can't find someone within their pool of referrals, they go online. When they do, they might find themselves being drawn to the freelance listing giants, Fiverr or Upwork, or fall into an online company that turns out to be completely bogus. Remember: you could be missing out on a authentic experience with a creative in your hometown!

I hope this was helpful and sparked some ideas to help you on the search for hiring local talent. As a consultant and individual professional myself, I am a big advocate for connecting local talent with local businesses, either in that person's state or region and at the very least, within the U.S. #supportlocalbrand ♥︎

Just like we are told to go where our customers hangout...look for creatives where they hangout! Cheers small business friends–spend your money wisely, but spend it with your heart! Over and out.


Does your graphic design or website look like an overgrown jungle: mismatched designs, DIY attempts, or an overload of tmi?

MelBee Design Studio offers creative services for busy small business owners and nonprofits that are in that VERY dilemma. MelBee is affordable, flexible, and best of all, authentic. Book by project, per day/week, or just sit down and talk to Mel about how you can better your system for graphic design. Let's get creating! (:

→ Need a recommendation for a creative consultant? Holla cuz I have them. Contact me.