Five Top Tips for Freelance Networking
For those of us working hard to build our own businesses in the freelancing world, mastering the art of networking is one of the best things we can do to increase and maintain our clientele pool. Creating a broad web of connections both inside and outside of our field of work can help us build a strong reputation, bringing in more frequent job proposals with new and old customers alike, and allow us to keep our business up to date with current trends. Here are my top tips for building a business network that will help you grow:
1) Schedule Time For Networking
First of all, as freelancers we can often get tied up with multiple projects and deadlines while working as a one-man or woman CEO, secretary, accountant and manual laborer for our business. It’s difficult to make time to focus on extra activities such as networking which often doesn't provide an immediate return and therefore doesn't get prioritized. However, committing yourself to a daily schedule of networking even if it is just for ten minutes can really help get your business off the ground and if you make the right connections, can even help you streamline your other tasks and get extra help from the right people when you need it. Investing time in making connections that will suit your needs is always time well spent, and can provide you with really useful referrals, references, mentorship and even the possibility of collaborations. A top tip for once you have established a few new connections like these, is to make sure that they stick by sparing a minute every now and then to follow them up.
2) Start With Personal Connections
It can be difficult to know where to start with networking, so separate it into these three categories; operational, strategic and personal. People in your operational network are those working in the same field as you such as present and former colleagues, other similar businesses and fellow members of any professional groups or organizations that you belong to. However, networking doesn't have to be limited to your operational field. You can also consider reaching out to anybody who inspires you for good advice; somebody you see as a good leader for example, even if they apply their skills to a different type of work. This would be termed strategic networking. And lastly, don't forget about your personal network which is one of your easiest to maintain, and often the most valuable. This consists of family and friends who are likely already highly invested in helping you to succeed, so will be the most willing of all of your connections to help you out and spread the word about your business. Matt Turner, a business writer at UK Writings and Revieweal advises that “your personal connections are really the best place to start your networking, giving you a springboard to expand on from there, so make sure you equip them well with the information you would like them to give out about you.”
3) Return To Past Clients
Your next port of call should be the past clients that you have had good working relationships with. These connections will likely be happy to leave you glowing reviews and recommend you to others if you ask them to.
4) Be Generous
Remember that networking is a two-way street however. Ellie Forero, a project manager at Eliteassignmenthelp and Oxessays suggests “volunteering to help others out will reap you rewards in time as you build a reputation for generosity and showcase your capabilities as part of a community that will likely reciprocate when you need it.”
5) Explore New Sites And Places
Once you have exhausted your list of close connections, you’ll need to push the boat out a little further. Great places to explore online are websites such as LinkedIn and Reddit which will have forums in your industry that you can become a part of. Make an effort to participate in conversations as much as possible on sites like these so that you can garner educational information and also offer your own gems of wisdom. Once the pandemic draws to a close, you can also begin taking advantage of physical networking opportunities like local events and trade shows again which will provide similarly useful opportunities.
The better known we can make ourselves in our relative industries by implementing these top tips for networking, the more we are then able to charge for our services too. Whether you are more comfortable networking online (as most of us are having to during the pandemic) or prefer to do so face to face, networking is an important skill to develop to help ourselves flourish so get out there and make yourself an established part of your community.
About the Author:
Elizabeth Hines works in digital marketing and also writes content for Paper Fellows and Lia Help. Elizabeth’s articles focus on the latest trends in technology and marketing, innovations and strategies. Hines also contributes to online magazines and blogs, such as Big Assignments among others.