Contractors in a variety of industries, from information technology to construction and beyond, regularly use subcontracted workers to complete projects large and small. If you are a self-employed worker or small business owner but aren't ready for bidding on large projects — or don't want the liability, marketing, and other overhead costs involved — you may have considered working as a subcontractor. But where can you find the contractors who need your services?
To find work as a subcontractor you have two main options:
- Look for advertisements for subcontractors in trade journals and on industry Web sites.
- Promote yourself as a subcontractor to contractors in your trade.
Market your services directly to larger firmsFind out which contractors have needs and connect with them via cold calling, mail, press kits, and networking.
The Small Business Administration Subcontracting Opportunities Directory is a list of contacts, searchable by state, of subcontracting firms with large Federal contracts. Onvia collects contractor information for government work and commercial construction projects. McGraw Hill Construction and Constructionwire specialize in construction contract leads.
Add your name to listings or directories of subcontractorsIndustry Web sites and professional organizations maintain directories of available subcontractors, and you can often add your name for free or a low cost.
The National Subcontractors Association provides contractors with listings of subcontractors, and also provides a variety of other services and information to subcontractors. ServiceMagic.com matches people and businesses with the skilled professionals they need. Bids411 is another matching service with a local orientation.
Attend trade showsAttending trade shows will give you an opportunity to connect and network with others in your industry, including the prime contractors who may be able to give you work.
The Ultimate Trade Show Resource maintains a database, searchable by industry, of over 15,000 trade shows, exhibits and events in the United States and beyond.
Read industry publicationsThe classified section in a trade magazine will often list opportunities for subcontractors, and the articles will give you ideas for marketing your own services as well as keep you up to date on what other subcontractors and contractors in the industry are doing.
TradePub.com offers free year-long subscriptions to industry magazines for qualified subscribers.
- Try creating a sharp, professional-looking marketing kit to send to prospective clients. List your services and testimonials from previous clients.
- Diversify your efforts. If you have too much of your work lined up with one firm and the job falls through, you may be left without any income.
- Even when you're busy, always devote a portion of your time to drumming up more business and making contacts.