Ah, freelance networking – the secret to a successful freelancer, and one who’s just struggling to get those clients in…
Here’s the mistake that some freelancers make when they first start out: they think that now they’re a contractor, they’ve waved goodbye to the corporate business networking world! Wrong.
Networking is still an integral part of your business – it just looks a little different in this side of town, that’s all.
Don’t worry, no need to dry-clean that pinstripe suit or crack out that briefcase – you’ll be glad to know it’s possible to network and build authentic relationships without losing your soul.
Here’s the complete low down on freelance networking: take notes people, Twine has got you covered with some essential networking tips.
What does freelance networking look like?
Although networking can look like big wigs in fancy bars, smoking cigars, your networking probably won’t look like that (unless, that’s the look you’re going for).
In the 21st-century gig economy, networking comes in all shapes and sizes, and there are networking opportunities everywhere to showcase your talent. From slipping a business card to your car mechanic, or attending industry conferences, to sharing your work on the latest hashtag – there are multiple ways to network.
As a freelancer, it’s your job to figure out what the best way to network is, as it will look different depending on the niche of your service. Building career connections is your lifeblood, so you should make sure you’re doing it right.
Build a useful network
For a lot of people, networking is a numbers game – which is a bad strategy, by the way. Quality over quantity, people!
Instead of worrying about getting the most connections on LinkedIn, handing out the most business cards, or getting the most Twitter followers – you instead need to consider how useful these connections are. If these contacts are providing you nothing except a number, maybe it’s time to rethink your networking strategy. After all, a freelance network is only as good as the people it’s filled with.
We get it though – it’s easy to make mistakes.
Take networking events for instance – before you know it, you’re all caught up in the swing of things, and have handed out all of your business cards to people who were super friendly, but probably weren’t potential clients.
Here’s a tip: ask the right questions. A good question to start with is “how can my business help you?”
Don’t waste time speaking to people who don’t need your help, and in fact, are just trying to proposition you with their own business ideas.
Other freelancers are your friends
Another common newbie mistake is to only approach people who could be potential clients, without realizing the value that connecting with other creative freelancers can bring. Although having plenty of clients under your belt is great, of course, it’s still not a complete business solution.
You should aim to build relationships with the movers and shakers that are already working in your field, and find peers who can also act as mentors. Through forging relationships in your industry, you’ll gain valuable insight into how other freelance talent finds work. Score.
The social network is the network
In order to network nowadays, you don’t even have to leave the house. That’s right you can network with talented creatives and successful professionals all day long, from the comfort of your own PJ’s.
A great social platform to start with is LinkedIn. Essentially, LinkedIn is like an uber professional Facebook: you can like, comment, and share, as well as ‘add connections‘. The difference with LinkedIn is, it’s an excellent platform to sell your services and get hired – a recent study showed that over 120 million people gained an interview through this platform. Clearly, it’s the place to be.
Also, if you meet someone influential IRL, you should try and connect with them through LinkedIn to solidify this connection.
Even though LinkedIn is probably the best platform to use, they can all be effective in helping kickstart freelance networking. Think Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Vine, Tumblr – any platform that provides you with an audience can be used to grow your network.
Branch out via blogging
Blogging is also a great way to promote yourself and grow your network as a freelancer. Writing about your industry gives you a chance to flex your knowledge in your specialist area, as well as build a reputation as a master of your craft.
The first step – start a blog. The second (and hardest) step – try to post at least one article a week. Content is here to stay, so make sure you work hard to make your content not only unique and original but consistent. Create a content calendar and share your posts on your social media channels, so people know you’re blogging.
Writing for other people’s blogs can be a great way to grow your audience too, without the hassle of maintaining your own. Target publications in your industry that have a large readership, and offer to do a guest post. If you’re smart about this, you could even use guest posting as a tool to improve your SEO, but we’ll let this article explain a little more about that…
You really should get out more…
Finally, don’t use online networking as an excuse not to leave the house.
Networking face-to-face is still the undisputed champion of building connections, and, when done correctly, is way more effective. After all, faces are harder to forget than tweets!
Your business is 50% personality, so there’s no better way to let that shine through than in person. And, let’s face it, freelancing can be a lonely existence, so you should definitely take the opportunity to network, in person, whenever you can.
Networking in the real world with real people (wait, those people on video calls have bodies!?) can come in many different forms.
For instance, you could look for local events that fall into your specific industry. You could also seek out local business coffee mornings, or creative industry meet-ups and conferences.
If you learn to do it right, networking needn’t be a corporate bore-fest. If you target the right people and attend the right gatherings, it can be a lot of fun! Think of it this way, you’ll make new friends, meet mentors, have a laugh, and most importantly – gain new clients while you’re doing it.
Take our advice and do freelance networking the right way; the world is your oyster!
Ready to get hired? At Twine, we have dozens of top-quality jobs being posted each and every day. From design to marketing, development to copywriting – there’s a job ready for your skills. Join the marketplace of creative talent here.